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Growth and learning key for new Wolves coach Ryan Warsofsky

Now only 32, Warsofsky is already preparing for his second season as an AHL head coach.

Ryan Warsofsky raises the Calder Cup in 2019.
Courtesy of the Wolves

New Wolves coach Ryan Warsofsky grew up next to George and Myrna Sullivan in Marshfield, Massachusetts. The Sullivans, now deceased, were a big part of Warsofsky’s life and even served as his godparents.

Their hockey-playing son, Mike, also had a major role in Warsofsky’s personal development. And that relationship has helped shape Warsofsky’s career, since Sullivan is the two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach of the Penguins who also spent time coaching the hometown Bruins.

“He’s been a huge influence on my career,” Warsofsky said. “He kind of tried to talk me out of being a coach [when] he was going through a tough time with the Bruins. I didn’t listen to him. But he wants the best for me and I appreciate it because I’ve looked up to him, even back when he was playing with the San Jose Sharks.

“Pretty cool relationship that I can lean on.”

Warsofsky, who became the Wolves coach when the union with the Hurricanes was formalized, still talks to Sullivan frequently and picks his brain about coaching. Sullivan, though, is just a part of Warsofsky’s support system that helped him land a job as an AHL head coach last year at just 31 years old.

After college, Warsofsky’s lone season of professional hockey came in 2011-12. He split 18 games between the Turnhout White Caps in Belgium, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the now-defunct Central Hockey League, and the Cape Cod Bluefins in the Federal Hockey League.

Then came Warsofsky’s transition to coaching, though that’s where he wanted to end up.

“I knew I wanted to be a coach at a pretty young age, which is probably not the realm of a lot of people,” Warsofsky said. “My mind was made up at 16 years old that I wanted to be a professional hockey coach. I had this goal in mind. I didn’t try to jump around as a coach. It was never my thought process to go from one job and try to find the next one. I wanted to kind of grow and learn.”

Following a year as an assistant at alma mater Curry College, in 2013 he joined the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, also as an assistant. In 2016, Warsofsky was promoted to head coach, going 88-44-10-2 over two seasons. Subsequently, at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, Warsofsky connected with then-Checkers coach Mike Vellucci, leading to a spot as an assistant in Charlotte.

Warsofsky was part of the staff for the 2019 Checkers team that beat the Wolves for the Calder Cup, and became head coach that summer when Vellucci left the Hurricanes’ organization.

Now only 32, Warsofsky is already preparing for his second season as an AHL head coach.

“In my coaching career, it’s been very quick to get where I am,” Warsofsky said. “I’m just trying to learn every day and get better every single day, even in these tough times, to stay sharp and just be ready for when we get that particular date [to start].”

NOTE: Registration is still open for the Run With The Wolves Virtual 5K. To register or for more information, visit https://www.chicagowolves.com/community/fundraisers/run-with-the-wolves-virtual-5k-fundraiser/.