Worcester Sharks Head Coach Roy Sommer, who plays a major role in developing players for the San Jose Sharks, is currently the longest-tenured coach in the American Hockey League.
The Oakland native returns for his 15th season behind the bench of San Jose's top development affiliate and his 17th season overall with the Sharks organization. In his 14 seasons as head coach, Sommer has compiled a 509-466-48-48-45(W-L-T-OTL-SOL) record in the regular season and has reached the postseason seven times, including reaching the Atlantic Division Finals in two of the last four seasons.
Last season, Roy became just the 4th head coach in AHL history to reach the 500 wins plateau after a 3-2 shootout victory at Hershey on February 11, 2012. San Jose used 15 players during the 2011-12 season that developed under Sommer’s tutelage. In fact, 22 players have made their NHL debuts with the Sharks over the last five seasons -- including Justin Braun, Andrew Desjardins, Brandon Mashinter, Alex Stalock, and Tommy Wingels.
In 2010-11, Sommer became just the 4th head coach in AHL history to reach the 1,000 games plateau after a 3-1 victory at Springfield on January 14, 2011 and seven players made their NHL debut with the San Jose Sharks.
In 2009-10, Sommer led Worcester to a franchise record 49 wins and captured the regular season Atlantic Division title. He won his 400th game as an AHL head coach after a 4-1 victory over Springfield at the DCU Center on Nov. 1, 2009. Entering 2012-13, Sommer’s 509 wins ranks fourth all-time among AHL head coaches.
As head coach for San Jose’s top development team, Sommer has coached more than 80 players who’ve spent time in the National Hockey League, including forward Logan Couture, who was named 2010-11 PlayStation “Sharks Rookie of the Year.”
Sommer, 54, began coaching San Jose’s top development affiliates in 1998-99 with the AHL’s Kentucky Thoroughblades. He coached the T-Blades for three seasons before San Jose relocated their AHL team to Cleveland. In his first season with Kentucky, the Thoroughblades registered franchise records for most regular season wins (44), most road wins (21) and total points (98) in a season while posting the AHL's fifth-best record. This success came despite having 17 players promoted to the NHL during the season.
From 1999-2001, Sommer's club went 84-50-21-5 to capture two consecutive Mid-Atlantic Division titles and went to the Calder Cup Playoffs each season. Sommer's success was recognized during the 1999-00 season with his selection as the head coach for the Canadian All-Star Team, where his squad toppled PlanetUSA, 8-3.
Before being named head coach of the Thoroughblades in 1998, Sommer spent two seasons (1996-98) as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks.
With San Jose, Sommer was responsible for pre-scouting upcoming opponents for their offensive and defensive tendencies, line combinations and special teams tactics. In addition, he assisted in running practices and provided special on-ice extended workouts with scratched players and those rehabilitating injuries.
Before Sommer joined San Jose, he was head coach of the ECHL's Richmond Renegades from 1991-96 and was named 1995-96 Coach of the Year after leading his team to a league best 46-11-13 mark and a league record 105 points in capturing the Brabham Cup (best regular season record). Sommer led the Renegades to the Riley Cup (league championship) in 1994-95 after posting a 41-20-7 regular season record. In addition, he served as head coach of the ECHL's East All-Star Team in 1994-95 and the North All-Star Team in 1995-96.
Sommer's additional ice hockey coaching experience includes assistant coaching stints with the Albany Choppers and Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League and working with USA Hockey as an assistant coach at several evaluation camps for 16- and 17-year-old players.
In 1998, he served as head coach and general manager for the silver-medal winning Team USA (4-1-0 record) at the International Ice Hockey Federation In-Line Hockey World Championships in Anaheim. Sommer’s squads won gold medals in each of the first two tournaments (1996 in St. Paul, Minn. and 1997 in Anaheim) and posted undefeated records each year. His three-year coaching mark at this prestigious tournament stands at 17-1-0.
The former Bay Area youth hockey player coached Roller Hockey International's San Jose Rhinos for three seasons (1994-96), including capturing the Murphy Cup (league championship) in 1995. In addition, Sommer served as head coach for RHI's 1996 Western Conference All-Star Team.
Before stepping behind the bench, Sommer played nine seasons of professional ice hockey. A sixth round selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977, Sommer played in the Leafs system as well as those of the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. The highlight of Sommer's NHL career came during the 1980-81 season when, as a teammate of Wayne Gretzky, Sommer scored a goal in his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers.
Sommer was captain of the Wichita Wind from 1980-83 and again with Muskegon in 1986-87. Sommer, who played left wing and center, was a member of the AHL Calder Cup Champion Maine Mariners in 1983-84 and helped lead Muskegon to the 1985-86 IHL title (Turner Cup). He played his junior hockey for the Spruce Grove Mets, which won the 1975 Centennial Cup, and for the Calgary Centennials. Sommer was a member of the United States National Team at the World Junior Championships in 1976-77.
Sommer resides in Shrewsbury, Mass. with his wife Melissa and their three children: Marley, Castan and Kira.
AHL COACHING WINS – ALL-TIME
1. Fred “Bun” Cook 1937-56 19seasons 1,171GP 636 WINS
2. Frank Mathers 1956-85 18seasons 1,256GP 610 WINS
3. John Paddock 1981-2010 16seasons 1,125GP 589 WINS
4. Roy Sommer 1998-current 14seasons 1,116GP 509 WINS
Worcester Sharks Assistant Coach Dave Cunniff was a participant in Worcester Head Coach Roy Sommer’s first American Hockey League coaching win. On Oct. 17, 1998, Kentucky defeated Albany, 6-4, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. One of the Albany players who recorded an assist on one of their four goals was Cunniff.
Since 2001-02 with the Cleveland Barons, Cunniff has been Sommer’s assistant coach. In fact, Cunniff has been on the bench for nearly 70 percent (355) of Sommer’s 509 wins.