Roy Sommer’s AHL coaching career spans 18 seasons and Wednesday night in San Jose, the longtime Sharks AHL bench boss became the league’s all-time winningest coach.
When Sommer’s San Jose Barracuda defeated the Ontario Reign 4-2 Wednesday, Sommer, 58, picked up the 637th win of his career, surpassing Fred ‘Bun’ Cook’s record 636 wins. Cook, who spent 19 seasons as an AHL coach, finished his coaching career in 1956 and his wins record has stood since then.
Cook’s mark of 636 games has stood for 60 years, but he’s held the all-time coaching wins record for 72 years. He moved into first place with his 153rd victory on Nov. 13, 1943, according to the AHL. While Sommer completed the feat in fewer seasons than Cook did, Sommer has coached 217 more games than Cook did due to an increased schedule and larger league size.
Sommer has spent his entire AHL career with San Jose farm club and he first took over the AHL reins in 1998. Prior to landing in the AHL, Sommer spent two years as an assistant coach with the Sharks, but headed to the minors to become a bench boss. Over his 18 years coaching San Jose’s AHL affiliate, Sommer has relocated along with the club. When he broke into the AHL, he led the Kentucky Thoroughblades, but moved on to the Cleveland Barons, Worcester Sharks and, now, the Barracuda.
Sommer’s longevity within the organization is remarkable, and his ability to continue to thrive in an ever-changing AHL is incredibly impressive. Sommer’s teams have won 40-plus games on seven occasions and 30-plus another seven times.
During his time with San Jose’s AHL affiliate, he coached current Sharks Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels, Justin Braun and Alex Stalock. Some of Sommer’s former players include Evgeni Nabokov, Dan Boyle, Ryane Clowe and Miikka Kiprusoff.
Sommer had experience in the AHL before becoming a coach in the league, however. In 1983-84 and 1984-85, Sommer suited up for the AHL’s Maine Mariners, over which time he posted 19 goals, 42 points and 377 penalty minutes in 147 games. He won a Calder Cup with Maine in 1984. During his playing days, he suited throughout the minor leagues. Drafted in the sixth-round, 101st overall pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977, Sommer did manage one big league goal in 1981 during a three-game stint with the Edmonton Oilers.
Now the AHL’s all-time wins king, Sommer only has one thing left to accomplish as an AHL coach: win a Calder Cup. Sommer’s clubs have never made it past the second round of the post-season. San Jose’s AHL affiliate made their first playoff appearance of the past five seasons in 2014-15, but were bounced in the opening round.