“The idea of coaching the national team in the Olympics is one of my dreams. I’ve always wanted to help develop Korean hockey,” Paek said via the IIHF website. “I’ve returned to Korea many times to run hockey schools and coached Korean teams travelling to Canada. What a great opportunity I have now.”
In 1990-91, he became the first Korean-born player ever in the NHL. During his short, but successful career, Paek was a member of two Stanley Cup Winning teams, playing for the Penguins when they won the cup back in 1991 and 1992. In five NHL seasons, Paek played 217 regular season games, scored 5 goals, had 29 assists for 34 points.
Paek has a big challenge ahead of him. With playing in the 2018 Olympics on the minds of everyone involved with the organization, the tournament hosts have a lot to improve on before the 2017 Olympic qualifiers. The team struggled at the 2014 Division IA World Championships, which saw Korea relegated to Group B. Currently ranked 23rd in the rankings, Korea will need to move up 5 positions for the IIHF to consider them for a spot. That’s unlikely, however, as Italy, Hungary and Japan are all keen on making sure that doesn’t happen thanks to strong showings from the past few years.
“The Korean team is on a good road although people are disappointed they couldn’t perform as expected here but we will have meetings about that,” Fasel said. “Our recommendation to the Korean Ice Hockey Association for a free entry is that the men’s national team needs to be 18th or better in the World Ranking. But there are still different ways to go. They can go through the qualification or they could have a free entry. But they need to improve and present a program that can fit.”
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