Ulf Samuelsson’s tenure in Charlotte kicked off Friday afternoon as the Checkers officially introduced him as their new head coach.

Samuelsson, who was named to the position on May 31, expressed his enthusiasm for his new home at a press conference held at the team’s office.

“We believe that we are going to have a good, competitive team here in Charlotte,” said Samuelsson. “It’s a very exciting day for me and my family to get going here with the Charlotte Checkers.”

This marks the first head coaching job for Samuelsson, who has eight years of NHL experience as an assistant and associate coach. Most recently he was behind the bench for a strong New York Rangers team, but several factors pushed the 52-year-old to Charlotte.

“First of all, it’s a great opportunity with this team if you look at the way the Hurricanes have drafted,” said Samuelsson. “There will be a lot of high-end talent coming through here and that makes it very interesting for a coach because that should give you a good team and a good group of players to work with.

“There were a couple of options that I could have looked into further, but when I started talking with Ronnie [Francis, Carolina GM], the more we talked about it the more I saw the potential in this situation. So it became an easy choice.”

Samuelsson’s relationship with Francis is built upon a long history together. The pair played alongside each other in Hartford before being traded together and capturing two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That bond has carried with them and now provides the opportunity to work together.

“I’ve always kept my eye on this organization because Ron Francis is my best friend so I’ve kept up with him and his career,” said Samuelsson. “It’s nice to be back.”

That friendship will take on a new dynamic with Samuelsson now working under his best friend, but he doesn’t seem worried.

“That’s certainly something that’s going to be tested here,” said Samuelsson. “He’s going to have to yell at me sometimes – well not yell at me, I’m a lot stronger than him, so he’ll tell me things. But the roles we have are clear. He’s the boss and I’m working for him. I’m going to come in and do the best job I can and I know that’s going to be enough to please him.”

Samuelsson’s personality continued to shine through during the press conference, like when he was asked about his staggering 2,453 career penalty minutes.

“It was over a long career, so if you break it down I was really a nice person,” he said.

Despite his resume, Samuelsson hasn’t spent much time in the AHL in either his playing or coaching career.

One of the biggest challenges facing him as an AHL coach will be maintaining balance between multiple goals.

“It’s a two-fold venture here,” said Samuelsson. “Part of my job description is to develop kids, but as a competitive person who has done this my whole life, winning is important.”

Having spent the last few days in Raleigh taking part in the Hurricanes’ prospect camp, Samuelsson has gotten a glimpse of some of the talent he could be developing next year.

“Haydn Fleury was one of the standout players at camp already. He, among others, will be fun to work with. We’ll work from every possible angle to make them better players.”

The other goal will be putting a winning team on the ice, something that has eluded the Checkers over their three-year playoff drought.

“It’s very hard to make the playoffs,” said Samuelsson. “It takes solid preparation. There’s a lot of new pieces involved here, so it’s going to require quite a bit of team-building and bonding early on to make sure we get off to a good start. It takes everyone, including the coaching staff and management. Everyone has to do a really good job to be able to move on to the next level.”

Carolina recently announced a slew of hirings to round out Samuelsson’s coaching staff in Charlotte. The new group includes fellow Swede Peter Andersson as assistant coach, former NHL great Curtis Joseph to work with the netminders and a full-time strength and conditioning coach in Bryn-Marc Conaway.

But Samuelsson pointed to the newly appointed video coach Myles Fee as a crucial key heading into next season.

“When you get these fine athletes to the rink for four or five hours max, you want to be able to maximize the time you have with them,” said Samuelsson. “So the video coach is huge. Without him, you won’t get through all the details that you want to because video takes a ton of time if you’re not an expert at it. Myles, our video coach, has worked for Edmonton for seven years and has done it perfectly there, so we’re really excited to have him on board.”

Today’s press conference wraps up a busy week for Samuelsson spent at the aforementioned prospect camp in Raleigh. Now comes the time for him to regroup and prepare for the true start of the offseason in the coming months.

“It was a very good opportunity for us as a staff to be able to get together this week,” said Samuelsson. “Everyone has sort of a general game plan now. We have a lot of our own work that we have to do now. Everyone has their assignments and we’ll check up every two weeks with where we are with everything so we can make sure that, come mid-August, we have our final game plan together. It was really a valuable time for us to get together.”