From the Associated Press comes a superb story about Korean Olympic hockey coach and former Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek:
Playing parts of six NHL seasons and winning the Stanley Cup twice, Jim Paek had seen hockey at its highest level.
When he returned to his native South Korea to take over its men’s national team, he saw hockey at an almost unacceptable level. Paek inherited a program that lacked the basic necessities of the sport, let alone the talent to compete internationally.
“We didn’t have a skate sharpener,” Paek said. “That’s how small our country is for hockey.”
South Korean hockey has come an unimaginable distance in in the past three-plus years with Paek and fellow former NHL player Richard Park in charge of bringing everything from the equipment and the locker room to the quality of play up to speed in time to take part in the Olympics as the tournament host.
“Jim and Richard, without them I think it wouldn’t be what it is,” goaltender Matt Dalton said. “They’ve added so much professionalism and all that — respectability. … Their accolades or whatever they’ve done, in Korean hockey no one’s ever come close to that. When they talk, people listen, and rightfully so. They should.”