Reading, Pa. – The Reading Royals, ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, announced that Kirk MacDonald has been hired as the team’s head coach and director of hockey operations.
Royals’ owner Jack Gulati stated, “We’re proud to formally bring Kirk on board as the Royals’ next head coach. He’s been an important part of our team for several years, and he stepped up under challenging circumstances last season to lead our group. We’re confident that Kirk will do an exceptional job as the leader of our hockey operations department, and we’re excited by the prospects of the next era of Royals hockey with Kirk at the helm.”
“I’ve sincerely been impressed with Kirk’s performance as the leader of our hockey operations department since he took the reins of the team as the interim head coach in April,” said Interim General Manager Ray Melcher. “I’m confident that our club is in good hands, and I look forward to working with Kirk as we continue our efforts to seek championship caliber performance in all phases of the Royals’ organization.”
“I want to thank Jack and Ray for having the confidence in me to provide me with this opportunity to lead the Royals,” said MacDonald. “I look forward to continuing the history of exceptional success that our hockey operations department has had here in Reading. I’m excited by the prospect of building and leading a team that is committed to bringing the Kelly Cup championship back to Reading.”
MacDonald, who is the seventh coach in the 16-year history of the Royals, was hired as Reading’s interim head coach on April 3, 2017. He took the head coaching reins 69 games into the 2016-17 regular season. With MacDonald as head coach, the Royals won the team’s final three regular season games and claimed the second seed in the North Division playoff bracket.
MacDonald joined the Royals as an assistant under Larry Courville in July of 2014. During MacDonald’s tenure as the team’s assistant coach, the Royals compiled a record of 119-72-22 in 213 regular-season games. The team qualified for the playoffs in all three seasons (including 2016-17) during which MacDonald served as an assistant.
Prior to joining the Royals as an assistant coach, MacDonald served for one season (2013-14) as an assistant at his collegiate alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (R.P.I.) in Troy, N.Y., where he returned after completion of his pro playing career, which concluded after he and his Reading teammates captured the 2013 ECHL Kelly Cup championship.
As a player at R.P.I, MacDonald registered 103 points (47g-56a) and 144 penalty minutes in 137 total collegiate games. MacDonald led the Engineers in goals (16) and points (36) during his junior season (2004-05). Prior to the start of the next season, however, MacDonald was diagnosed with and treated for testicular cancer, which caused him to miss the entire 2005-06 season. Upon returning to the team for his senior season, he served as R.P.I.’s captain and proceeded to lead the Engineers in scoring (12g-15a=27pts) in thirty-three games. At the conclusion of his collegiate career, MacDonald received a number of accolades including R.P.I.’s Most Inspirational Player Award and the Rensselaer Alumni Association Community Service Award, and was nominated and selected as a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which is bestowed on college hockey’s most notable citizen.
During his six year pro playing career, MacDonald played 406 regular-season games, 272 of which were played in the American Hockey League with Albany, Houston, Iowa and Providence. MacDonald also played portions of three different seasons in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades and Royals, compiling 111 points (51g-60a) and 148 penalty minutes in 134 ECHL games.