Oakland native Sommer takes job as new head coach of WHL’s Wild
The WHL’s Wenatchee Wild announced this week the hiring of Roy Sommer as the team’s new head coach.
Sommer comes to Wenatchee after spending the 2022-23 season as head coach of the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.
“I’m looking forward to going back to the Western Hockey League. It’s the league that gave me everything as a player and a coach,” said Sommer. “I’ve spent a lot of years at the next level that the players want to get to, and I’m excited about helping our players get to that next level. I’m also excited to be joining the Wenatchee Wild organization as it gets started on its journey in the WHL.”
A native of Oakland, Sommer brings with him an extensive AHL and NHL coaching resume, with all but one of those seasons spent in the San Jose Sharks organization. His 828 AHL coaching wins are far and away the most in league history, and his 25-season run as an AHL bench boss is also a league record. His teams won four division titles, and he earned the AHL’s Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as its outstanding coach during the 2016-17 season, in which the San Jose Barracuda won a franchise-best 43 games and made a run to the Western Conference final.
During his professional coaching career, more than 150 of his players moved on to play in the NHL. He served twice as an NHL coach, first assisting under Al Sims and Darryl Sutter for the Sharks from 1996-98, and again stepping behind the Sharks’ bench as an associate coach during the 2019-20 campaign.
Sommer enjoyed a 10-year professional playing career after being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring a goal in his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in 1981 and leading the AHL’s Maine Mariners to a Calder Cup championship in 1984. His rise to the NHL as a player and coach began in the WHL, making his debut with the Edmonton Oil Kings before spending two years on the ice with the Calgary Centennials. He also briefly served as an assistant coach in the WHL, as a member of the Prince Albert Raiders staff during the 1988-89 season.
“We’re excited to welcome Roy to our organization,” said Wenatchee general manager Bliss Littler. “I think he is a great fit at this time. His background and history of developing players and moving them from the American Hockey League to the NHL is truly exceptional. When you talk to anyone in pro hockey, or those who know Roy, they will tell you the same thing – you’re getting a world-class person.”
(October 13, 2023)