The Korea Ice Hockey Association has announced Jim Paek as the new head coach of the men’s national team. Paek was the first Korean-born player to play in the National Hockey League. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the ninth round, 170th overall, in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft.
A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins, Paek was also named as a Program Director of the national team team along with his new head coaching duties. The former defenceman will replace Byoen Sun-Wook, who coached the team for three years but resigned after Korea was relegated at the 2014 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A.
Paek will be counted on to guide Korea as it looks to gain qualification to the 2018 Winter Olympics, set to be held on home soil in PyeongChang.
“The idea of coaching the National Team in the Olympics is one of my dreams. I've always wanted to help develop Korean hockey. I've returned to Korea many times to run hockey schools and coached Korean teams travelling to Canada. What a great opportunity I have now.”
"I know Korea hockey is aiming for the 2018 Winter Games, it's a great challenge but if we are organized and have a plan and teach the process good things will come. We cannot lose focus on the process."
Paek was born in Seoul Korea, but moved to Toronto, Canada when he was only one year old. Paek's NHL career began with the Penguins in 1990–91. Upon entering the league he became the first Korean-born hockey player to ever play in the NHL, and when that season ended with the team’s first Stanley Cup he became the first player of Korean descent to have his name engraved on the Cup.
In the 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs, Paek played in eight games and scored his first NHL goal as the Pens won their first Cup. The following season, Paek played a bigger role on the team and even assisted on the Cup-winning goal in game 4 against Chicago.
He started his coaching career with the Orlando Seals in 2003, and most recently has been working as an assistant coach with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins for the last nine seasons. He helped guide Grand Rapids to its first-ever Calder Cup in 2012-13.