ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– Rob Klinkhammer is a familiar name to longtime Rockford IceHogs’ fans. He’s a former player from more than a decade ago, who’s now back with the team as an assistant coach.

Klinkhammer first put on an IceHogs uniform in the 2008-09 season. He spent four seasons here playing forward. He scored 44 goals and he had 65 assists.

“This is kind of where I cut my teeth as a pro learning how to be a pro,” said Klinkhammer. I was here for those first four seasons, four of my first five seasons, those were kind of like formative years in your pro career. So, this was where I kind of got the groundwork for my playing career.”

A playing career that included suiting up for 193 NHL games with five franchises, followed by six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League which primarily has teams in Russia. After last season, Klinkhammer decided it was time to stop playing, or more precisely, his body told him it was time to stop.

“My body was done last year. I knew I couldn’t play anymore. I was in too much pain. Things were breaking down.”

So he began calling all of the hockey contacts he’d made through his playing career, seeking out a coaching job.

“One of the guys I contacted was Mark Bernard (IceHogs President of Hockey Operations & General Manager). He got back to me about three or four months later, and just said, ‘Hey, do you want to interview for a position here? We need someone to help out with the boards and the PP’ (Power Play), so I said, ‘I’d love to!”

Klinkhammer knows hockey for sure, but after playing the game for 30 years, it’s still a bit of a transition becoming a coach.

“Finding my way on the coaching side is definitely a challenge. Everything is new, just your routine, how you prepare. Before it’s all your body, getting your body activated, recovery, rest. Now it’s all in the video room game-planning. We’ve got to set those game plans.

Klinkhammer’s main responsibilities are working with the forwards and working with the power play unit. So Klinkhammer laid the groundwork for his professional playing career in Rockford. Now he’s laying the groundwork for his coaching career in Rockford.

“I get to stay in the game. I get to work with pros. I’m very fortunate to be able to start at this level with this staff here. Everyone’s been great.”

NOTE: Klinkhammer’s playing career also included winning an Olympic medal. He was on Team Canada in 2018 when it won the bronze.