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On Monday, the Michigan hockey team announced that Jeff Salajko will be joining the Wolverines’ coaching staff as a volunteer goalies coach for the upcoming season. 

Salajko has spent the past 14 years as a coach, beginning his career with Ohio State, before moving to the Red Wings organization in 2013.With the Red Wings, he spent three years on the development side working with their Grand Rapids affiliate before being promoted to the NHL in 2016. In his time in the NHL, Salajko trained the goalies such as Jonathan Bernier, Thomas Greiss and was even credited by Jimmy Howard as one of the reasons he was able to return to the NHL. In Detroit, Salajko frequently crossed paths with current Michigan interim head coach Brandon Naurato and director of hockey operations Topher Scott. 

“I just hired Jeff Salajko as the new goalie coach, and he’s gonna be great,” interim head coach Brandon Naurato told The Daily Tuesday. “He’s the man. He’s really good at what he does and he just simplifies it too.”

In the upcoming season, Salajko will split his time between working with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, and scouting for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

“He’s actually goalie scouting with the Edmonton Oilers, and he’ll be with us two days a week,” Naurato said. “So he’ll get to know all the college goalies and free agents and draft picks. Kind of killing two birds with one stone.”

Adding Salajko behind the bench seems like it rounds out the coaching shakeups Michigan has experienced this past offseason, most notably with the firing of Mel Pearson, promotion of Brandon Narauto to interim head coach and addition of Topher Scott as director of hockey operations. But despite the considerable administrative changes, Narauto remains confident that the turnover will have no negative impact on the Wolverines. 

“I wish you could get a recording of this smile. It’s just positive,” Naurato said. “Like we’re done with the old stuff and it’s just like everyday guys are excited to come to work. Guys are excited and guys are getting better and are challenging each other and coming up with new ways to teach. Just like super dialed but exciting and fun to work with.”

In his coaching role with Michigan, Salajko will work to develop the Wolverines three-goalie core comprised of juniors Erik Portillo and Noah West, along with freshman Tyler Shea. Portillo is looking to maintain momentum coming off of a dominant sophomore season in which he posted a 2.14 goals against average with a .926 save percentage. With West and Shea, who are expected to be backup and reserve respectively, Salajko’s role will likely focus on development and preparation for a post Portillo world in the event that he signs with the Buffalo Sabres after this season. 

Following the offseason shakeups to Michigan’s lineup and coaching staff, the Wolverines need stability between the pipes. And with the hire of Salajko, Naurato is attempting to ensure that they’ll have it.