Leafs Closing In On Assistant Coaches?


According to John Shannon of Rogers Sportsnet, the Toronto Maple Leafs may be closing in on naming some assistant coaches, with three potential candidates now in the public eye. For those too lazy to do the research, here’s a bit of background info:

Craig Ramsay

Ramsay is no stranger to the game, having experience as a player, head coach, and assistant coach. Ramsay’s introduction to the NHL was as a first round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in 1971. He played a little over a thousand games, never leaving Buffalo, and made a bit of a name for himself. His biggest moments were making it to the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Selke Trophy in his final season, and being the last NHL player to finish a full year with no penalties against (something nearly equalled by Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly this year).

Shortly after retiring, Ramsay found himself behind Buffalo’s bench for a year in 1986/87. Beginning the year as assistant, he replaced the great Scotty Bowman just twelve games in. His tenure only lasted 68 games, however, and was his last taste of coaching for seven years, at which point he joined the Panthers as an assistant. Eventually, he found his way to Philadelphia, where he took over for Roger Neilson for a brief stint before being let go.

From there, Ramsay spent five years in Tampa Bay as an assistant, winning his first Stanley Cup, before spending three in Boston, jumping ship a year too early to get his second. He was the last ever head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, and spent a couple years back with the Panthers before being fired in the cleaning house of Kevin Dineen and his staff.

Rich Tocchet

If Ramsay was Mr. Clean as a player, Tocchet was his opposite. Having played 1144 games between six NHL teams, Tocchet amassed nearly 3000 penalty minutes to go with his 440 goals and 512 assists. Tocchet’s coaching history also starts immediately following his playing career, helping out as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche for two years before performing assistant and even temporary head coaching duties for the Phoenix Coyotes.

A bit of trouble headed his way during his time with the Coyotes, as he became a key component of Operation Slapshot, being accused of financing and helping operate a gambling ring for NHL players. This eventually lead to a guilty plea and two years of probation. Exactly two years after taking a leave of absence from the league, he was reinstated and took an assistants role with the Tampa Bay Lightning, which quickly became a head coaching gig after Barry Melrose turned out to be a colossal failure for them.

Tocchet was eventually fired at the end of the 2010 season and replaced with Guy Boucher, and has been an analyst ever since.

Ted Dent

As mentioned in the tweet, Ted Dent is the current coach of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He doesn’t have the illustrious NHL career of the others, having spent his time playing in the NCAA, Central Hockey League, ECHL, and best of all, Roller Hockey International. Dent retired from playing at just 28 years old, and earned his first coaching gig as the assistant of the Trenton Titans in 2005. He’s spent the last eight years with the IceHogs, taking over as head coach in 2011/12. 

Since taking the head coaching gig, Dent has posted an above 0.500 record in all three seasons, but has yet to make the playoffs. Rockford were four points out of the final playoff spot in the west, and allowed the second most goals in the league, ahead of only the last-place Portland Pirates. They did outshoot the Marlies 42-22 in their second of two games against each other this year, so he’s got that going for him. 

Something Key

These probably aren’t the only candidates. My logic for this is two fold. First and foremost, there’s been a lot of speculation that the Leafs are waiting to see which high profile head coaches don’t make the cut so they can throw money at “super-assistants”. None of these three are of that calibre, combining for limited assistant success at the pro level and nothing impressive at all as head coaches. 

Secondly, look at where these guys are from. Ramsay is from Weston, Ontario. That’s not an obscure city way up in the north; it’s another Toronto neighbourhood that kept its old town name. Like, it’s Weston Road from Jane to Royal York, which legitimately means it’s ten kilometres up the street from Mimico. Dent is from Toronto proper, and Tocchet is from Scarborough. These are probably the baseline candidates that were found by seeing how many coaches with some times to the NHL are in this years Bell phonebook, which is otherwise used to make players look tall at press conferences.

In short, I believe that this is legitimate information. But I also don’t believe that any of these guys wind up with the job.

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  • Some new blood is much needed and key. Although to be honest Dent doesn’t look like a horrible option for one of the spots. I mean, if you have to choose between him, the other two mentioned and say, everyone’s favorite other option Mr Oates… Just saying

  • I don’t really like any of those options, but because of his experience, Ramsay is probably the best.

    I would rather go with the known commodities…one of the Marlie coaching staff. Give the players and staff some extra motivation by showing you can promote from within.

    Gord Dineen seems ideal. He had over 15 years in the NHL and then paid his dues by coaching in the minors. He coached in ECHL and has been an assistant coach in the AHL for most of the last 10 years.

    I’m really impressed with Steve Spott, but lets give him a little more time in AHL. If the team falters and the Marlies are going, fire Carlyle and bring in Spott as the new coach for the Leafs. It all seems quite simple.