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Avalanche promote Paul Jerrard

Paul Jerrard

July 16, 2003

SAULT STE. MARIE - Former Lake Superior State player and assistant coach Paul Jerrard will be returning to familiar surroundings when he takes over as assistant coach for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

Jerrard, 38, was a defenseman at Lake Superior State from 1983-87 when coach Frank Anzalone was rebuilding Laker Hockey the first time. Jerrard went on to play professional hockey for 10 seasons, including his last three at Hershey. The Bears won the Calder Cup when he was there in 1996-97.

Jerrard's move is a promotion within the Colorado Avalanche system. Last season he was an Avalanche assistant coach responsible for video. This season he will work under the Bears' new head coach, Paul Fixter, who has been in the Avalanche organization for eight years. The hiring of Fixter and Jerrard was announced July 2.

"I don't have any idea what's down the road for me," said Jerrard, who was passing through Sault Ste. Marie last week and helped out at the Laker Hockey Skills Development Center. "I know that every stop I'm taking will give me more experience and a bigger window of opportunity."

The idea of moving again isn't overly appealing, but the Jerrards enjoyed their first stint in Hershey and are looking forward to returning. Daughters Catherine, 10, and Meaghan, 6, have friends there. Cheryl, his wife and a LSSU graduate, can re-establish her career as an aerobics instructor.

According to a statement on the Hershey Bears web site, Fixter first met Jerrard just hours before the press conference on July 1.

"But I had a pretty good scoop on the former Bears d-man before he came to the rink that day," said Fixter, who was the Bears' assistant coach the past two years and an Avalanche video coach for six years. "The universal reaction of those people who knew Jerrard from his days in Chocolatetown all said what a class individual he is, what an effective communicator he is, how well-liked he is. It all became evident to me quickly after we were introduced. Jerrard will be a great addition to an already great locker room atmosphere. It's a great promotion for him, and coupled with a return to the place where he enjoyed his greatest triumph as a player, it's especially sweet for him."

Those in the Colorado organization with whom Jerrard has worked have impressed him, too.

"Colorado prides itself on having great players and quality, character individuals," Jerrard said. "The players are very friendly, and very nice, ordinary guys with a tremendous gift of talent and the work ethic to get to that level and stay there."

One day last winter, shortly after the season started, center Peter Forsberg's car wouldn't start after returning from a trip, so Jerrard gave him a ride home from the Denver airport in his old Honda.

"What a way to break the ice," Jerrard said.

Working in the National Hockey League was a dream come true for Jerrard. He played five games with the Minnesota North Stars in 1988-89.

"It was something that I always dreamed of as a player," he said. "But minor league hockey is a nice life, too. I am fortunate that I worked with arguably the best NHL organization, and now the best minor league organization."

Hershey is the oldest franchise in the AHL. Jerrard played 153 games with the Bears from 1994-97, recording 21 goals and 32 assists.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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