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The Coachella Valley Firebirds Announced The Signing Of Their First Two Players In Team History

Today, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the 32nd AHL team debuting in Fall 2022 and the affiliate of the NHL Seattle Kraken, announced the signing of their first two players in team history, Samuel Buček [b-EWE,sec] and Ian McKinnon. This announcement comes after the team was officially recognized by the AHL as the 32nd franchise and follows the recent hires of head coach Dan Bylsma and assistant coach Jessica Campbell.

“We are building a team that leads with skill, tenacity and impact on and off the ice,” said Firebirds head coach Dan Bylsma. “Both Samuel Buček and Ian McKinnon have the potential to be strong leaders for our team and we anticipate them having a solid impact in the AHL.”

Samuel Buček, 23, the organization’s first player to be signed, was the top scorer in Slovakia’s professional league.  The 6-foot 3-inch, 205-pound winger led ExtraLiga scorers with 41 goals and 64 points all while playing for HK Nitra last season, adding another 13 goals and 11 assists in 19 playoff contests. He was named the league’s Most Valuable Player during the playoffs.

Buček has represented his native Slovakia in several international tournaments, including the 2018 World Jr. Championships. In addition, he recorded 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 52 games with the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes in 2016-2017 and played for the USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2015-16 and 2017-18.

Ian McKinnon, a 6-foot-2-inch, 196-pound winger split time last season between the Providence Bruins (AHL), Maine Mariners (ECHL) and Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL) after splitting the previous two seasons between Providence and Jacksonville. He helped Jacksonville earn a playoff berth in 2021-22, recording a point in two of the four playoff games he played in. The 24-year-old has recorded a combined six goals and four assists across 90 AHL/ECHL regular-season games since turning pro in 2019.

The puck will drop for the Coachella Valley Firebirds’ inaugural season at Acrisure Arena, the newest world-class concert and sports venue designed specifically for the Coachella Valley, in December 2022.

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Samuel Buček
Ian McKinnon

About the Coachella Valley Firebirds

The Coachella Valley Firebirds are the AHL’s 32nd Franchise and the affiliate of the Seattle Kraken. The team is set to play its inaugural season in 2022-2023 at the Acrisure Arena. Visit for the latest news and information.

About Acrisure Arena 

America’s hottest music festival destination is finally getting the world-class arena it deserves. Opening in December 2022, the Acrisure Arena will provide the greater Palm Springs area of Southern California with a premiere 11,000+ seat venue to host the biggest artists and acts on the planet. Designed specifically for hockey and concerts, the new arena will provide top-tier hospitality, artist amenities, and all of the benefits of a modern music and sports venue. In addition, the facility will serve as the new home of the American Hockey League affiliate of the Seattle Kraken.

The Acrisure Arena is a $300+ million project that is being 100% privately funded through outstanding partners Oak View Group, Seattle Kraken, and Live Nation. Learn more at and follow Acrisure Arena on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

About Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken are the National Hockey League’s newest franchise, recently completed their inaugural season at Climate Pledge Arena. Visit for the latest news and information including press releases, multimedia content and the latest hires.

Media Contacts:

Sam Threadgill

Scoop Marketing for Oak View Group, Acrisure Arena, Coachella Valley Firebirds

(818) 761-6100