BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Beauts have announced the hiring of Craig Muni as co-coach for the 2016-17 season. Muni will join general manager and last season’s co-coach Ric Seiling behind the bench.
Muni is a former Buffalo Sabre, but is perhaps best known for his time with the Edmonton Oilers early in his career, where the team won three Stanley Cups in four seasons. He will replace former Team USA forward Shelley Looney as co-coach.
It was announced in late March that Looney would not return to her position, choosing to commit full-time to her responsibilities within the Buffalo Bisons youth hockey organization.
Previously, Muni joined Seiling coaching their sons in youth hockey. Most recently, Muni coached in the New Era Diamond girls softball system, which is among the elite in Western New York.
Throughout the offseason, Seiling has spoken of developing a culture of winning in the Beauts organization. Muni has that experience, in spades.
“Winning is something you can learn, but you learn by experience. I think Craig’s experience with his Stanley Cups — and his whole career — he’s been in a winning situation,” Seiling explained.
In their pioneering season, Looney and Seiling split the coaching between offense and defense, with Seiling taking the backend. It appears that this season, the roles will be reversed and Seiling will be working with players of his natural forward position. Muni will handle the defense.
“His experience as a defenseman, not only for our new players, but some of our returning players, will be a great influence,” Seiling explained. “[Megan] Bozek and [Emily] Pfalzer — especially with the Olympic year coming up — he can help fine-tune their game. They’re going to be that much better when the Olympics come.”
Muni weighed in on his National team players. “The girls that are fortunate enough to have the opportunity, I will help them, make them better,” he said, then added, chuckling, “…and help them defeat Canada.”
As co-coach, Muni hopes to inspire the girls to win.
“[Winning] is within you, but it’s not in everyone,” Muni said. “The girls on this team, and in the league; that’s what they’re here to do. The new girls coming in should aspire to get to the [Olympic] level. I’m here to help them.”
When asked about the learning curve coming into the NWHL, Muni demonstrated confidence in his abilities.
“Hopefully, it will be short.” Muni continued, “I will have to get to know the players…their strengths, and their weaknesses…and start figuring out how to improve their game. Once we improve everyone’s individual game, we can start to develop the team’s game as a whole.”
Seiling was quick to echo Muni’s sentiments. “Offense wins games. Defense wins championships,” he said, smiling.
Buffalo improved its defensive core even further, as the team announced the addition of University of British Colombia defenseman, Sarah Corsoro. With the anticipated signing of Pfalzer and Bozek, Buffalo’s defense has become one of the most offensively potent in the league.
The support of a legacy champion like Muni will definitely help Buffalo’s backend, and the team may have found the secondary scoring they lacked so much in their first year. As Seiling completes the free agency period, which ends July 31, Buffalo fans can be assured that Seiling is aware of the team’s shortcoming’s in their inaugural campaign, and the hiring of Muni demonstrates that they’re quickly being addressed.