Ex-NHLer Richard Park to Join Jim Paek’s Korean National Team Staff

August 11, 2014
Richard Park played his final season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Korea Times file)

Richard Park played his final season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Korea Times file)

(Yonhap) — Richard Park, the second South Korean native to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), will serve as an assistant coach to Jim Paek, the first Korean-born NHL player who was named the head coach of the Korean national team last month, during the country’s upcoming national team trials.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) said on Monday that Park will be a temporary assistant to Paek during the trials for the under-18 team from Aug. 18 to 22, and then for the training camp for the senior national team reserves from Aug. 25 to 29.

Paek said he’d asked Park to come to South Korea for the occasion and that the 38-year-old may eventually join him as the full-time assistant coach. The KIHA said Spiros Anastas, head coach of the men’s hockey team at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, will also work as an assistant for Paek this month.

South Korea is trying to qualify for the men’s hockey tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be held in PyeongChang, an alpine town about 180 kilometers east of Seoul.

Host countries do not receive an automatic berth in Olympic hockey competitions. Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), has said he would consider giving South Korea a spot in the Olympics as long as the 2018 host improved its world rankings to No. 18 by the 2016 IIHF Congress, where the format for the 2018 Olympic competition will be determined.

South Korea is currently ranked 23rd, an improvement of 10 spots over the past four years. The country recently fast-tracked Canadian-born players to Korean citizenship in the hope of improving its world rankings.

Park was born in Seoul and moved to the United States with his family at age three. He played junior hockey in Toronto and was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round at the 1994 NHL draft.

Park appeared in one game for the Penguins in the 1994-95 season. He was traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 1997, and went on to split ensuing seasons in the NHL and the minors.

Park began playing more regularly starting in the 2001-02 season with the Minnesota Wild. In the 2002-03 season, Park set his career high with 14 goals and also appeared in 18 playoff games, scoring three goals and three assists. The upstart Wild stunned the favored Colorado Avalanche in seven games at the Western Conference quarterfinals, and Park scored two goals, including the overtime winner, in the Wild’s 3-2 victory in Game 6 of that series.

Park went on to also play for the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders, before playing his final NHL season with the Penguins in 2011-12.

He had 102 goals and 139 assists in 738 NHL games. Park has played the past two years in Switzerland.