Plymouth Whalers announce new GM Mark Craig, head coach Don Elland

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. - The Plymouth Whalers have named Mark Craig general manager and Don Elland head coach.

Craig, 61, comes back to the organization he worked for 30 years ago. Owner Peter Karmanos purchased the Windsor Spitfires in 1984 and one of his first hires was Craig -- who was then working as a coach in the Detroit Compuware system -- as the head coach of the Spitfires for the 1984-85 season.

Joe Stefan has been promoted to assistant GM.

Craig chose Elland for the head coach position. The 50-year-old is a long-time coach from the Compuware Youth program who joined the Whalers as an assistant in 2010.

Veteran GM/coach Mike Velucci left for the NHL in April. He's now assistant GM and director of hockey operations for the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I have a great deal of respect for Mark," said Vellucci. "He has been a mentor and a friend of mine for a long time. Mark will do a great job. Don Elland has paid his dues as an assistant and has a great hockey mind. I know the players respect him. Between Mark, Don and Joe, I know the Whalers are being left in good hands and will continue our winning tradition of making the playoffs."

Vellucci will remain governor of the Whalers.

Meanwhile, Karmanos promoted Dennis Moore to president and chief financial officer of the Whalers and Compuware Arena and Mike Henry to vice president and general manager of Compuware Arena.

"Compuware Arena has become a first-class venue for many events in addition to hockey," said Karmanos. "Dennis and Mike have been an integral part of the arena's growth from the beginning. They will continue to do an excellent job in their new positions. Mike Vellucci's track record as a general manager and head coach in the Ontario Hockey League speaks for itself. He's earned the chance to move to the National Hockey League."

The Whalers finished the 2013-14 Ontario Hockey League season with a 28-33-0-7 record and 63 points. They grabbed the 8th and final seed in the playoffs where they fell in 5 games to the top-seeded Guelph Storm. The Storm grabbed the OHL's Robertson Cup and went all the way to the Memorial Cup final where they lost to the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings, 6-3.

Zach Lorentz led the Whalers this season with 27 goals and 54 points. Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic posted 26 wins and a .925 save percentage.

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