The winningest head coach in American Hockey League history, Roy Sommer spent a quarter of a century running AHL benches, nearly all of it as coach of the San Jose Sharks’ top affiliates.
A Bay Area native, Sommer served as an assistant for the Sharks before being named head coach of the Kentucky Thoroughblades on May 28, 1998. That began a run of 24 years leading the Sharks’ AHL prospects in Lexington (1998-2001), Cleveland (2001-06), Worcester (2006-15) and San Jose (2015-22) – with more than 150 of his players going on to play in the National Hockey League.
Sommer overtook a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers in setting two AHL records that may never be broken. His 828 victories are nearly 200 more than Bun Cook’s previous mark, and his 1,814 games coached are almost 600 ahead of second-place Frank Mathers.
Sommer’s teams won four division titles, and he was voted the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in 2016-17, when he led the Barracuda to the Western Conference Finals. In 2022, he joined the Anaheim Ducks organization and served as coach of the San Diego Gulls.
Before embarking on his storied coaching career, Sommer played 10 seasons of professional hockey after being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977. He scored a goal in his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers, and won a Calder Cup championship with the Maine Mariners in 1984.