Former Calgary Flames assistant coach Paul Jerrard passes away
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike9 months ago
There’s some sad news in the hockey world to kick off Thursday morning, as the University of Nebraska-Omaha has announced the passing of assistant coach Paul Jerrard at age 57, following a battle with cancer. Jerrard’s likely a familiar name to fans of the Calgary Flames, as he was assistant coach for two seasons (2016-17 and 2017-18) under Glen Gulutzan.
From Omaha’s release:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of assistant coach, Paul Jerrard. Paul had been quietly fighting a long-term battle with cancer. Our program will be forever indebted to PJ for his countless positive impact,” Omaha hockey Head Coach Mike Gabinet said. “PJ attacked each day with a team first attitude, vibrant enthusiasm, and an unmatched willingness to help grow and develop our young men. Knowing PJ first as my coach in pro hockey, and now having had the chance to work alongside him each day, I am beyond grateful for the lessons he shared and the loyal friendship we forged.“There were no small jobs for PJ, and he never had a bad day, he made the people around him better and we will forever miss his presence in our locker room and lives. He was a man who lived his life with great integrity, class, and the desire to always be the best role-model and citizen he could be. He was my coach, mentor, colleague and most importantly friend who will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Cheryl and daughters Catherine & Meaghan.”
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Jerrard played as a defenceman (and occasionally a right wing) and was drafted in the ninth round of the 1983 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers. He spent four seasons in college with Lake Superior State, then went pro in 1987-88. Jerrard became a reliable veteran in the minors, playing 503 games in the old International Hockey League (Colorado, Denver, Kalamazoo, Albany, Milwaukee and Fort Wayne) and 153 games in the American Hockey League (Hershey). He was called up for five NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars in 1988-89, but couldn’t get a toehold at the NHL level.
Jerrard retired from playing in 1997, but immediately went into coaching. He spent four seasons with his alma mater at Lake Superior State as an assistant. He spent 12 seasons as an assistant at the AHL level, with Lowell, Hershey, Iowa, Texas and Utica. He spent five seasons in the NHL with Colorado (2002-03), Dallas (2011-13) and Calgary (2016-18). His bread and butter was the penalty kill, but he also worked quite a bit with his club’s blueliners, particularly during his time with the Flames. After his departure from the Flames, Jerrard went back to his roots in college, joining Nebraska-Omaha starting with the 2018-19 season.
Jerrard remains one of very few Black coaches to work at a high level in hockey. During his tenure with the Flames, he was the only Black coach behind an NHL bench.
Our condolences to Jerrard’s family and friends for their loss.
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