Ken Gernander has been a highly respected leader on and off the ice for more than two decades in the American Hockey League.
A native of Coleraine, Minn., Gernander was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets and spent his first three seasons with their AHL club in Moncton, helping the Hawks reach the Calder Cup Finals in 1994. He signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers that offseason, beginning a relationship that continues to this day.
After putting up 52 points and a plus-34 rating and winning a division title in his first season with the Binghamton Rangers, Gernander was named team captain in 1995 and would go on to wear the “C” for New York’s top affiliate for 10 seasons. In 1995-96, Gernander set career highs with 44 goals and 73 points, and his streak of 211 consecutive AHL games played was ended not by injury, but by his first career NHL recall. He was awarded the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey, the first of two times he would receive that honor.
Gernander moved to Hartford when the Rangers’ affiliate became the Wolf Pack in 1997, and he immediately became the heart of the franchise. He paced the team with 35 goals and led them to the conference finals in their first season, and two years later captained the team to the first professional hockey championship ever won by a team in Hartford as the Wolf Pack claimed the 2000 Calder Cup.
Gernander finished his playing career in 2005, at the time owning the most points (624) of any American-born player in league history. His 973 regular-season games played rank ninth all-time, and he retired with more Calder Cup Playoff games played (123) than anyone in league history (since surpassed).
Gernander immediately transitioned to the Hartford bench, serving as an assistant coach for two seasons before taking over the reins in 2007. In his first five seasons as head coach of the Wolf Pack (now the Connecticut Whale), Gernander has compiled a record of 208-158-30 (.563).