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AHL Pocket book: Coaches boosting NHL hopes in Calder Cup Playoffs

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The American Hockey League has constructed its popularity on creating gamers, however that success additionally extends behind the bench.Twenty-three present NHL coaches are AHL teaching alumni. Extra could possibly be on the best way with the coaches of the 4 groups remaining within the Calder Cup Playoffs carrying regular-season success into the postseason. Western Convention Dallas Eakins: San Diego (Anaheim Geese)Anaheim administration has entrusted Eakins with its high prospects for 4 seasons, and he is used that point productively as he makes an attempt to work his approach again to an NHL job.In three of these 4 seasons, the 52-year-old has taken San Diego to not less than the second spherical of the postseason within the extremely aggressive Pacific Division. This season, San Diego defeated San Jose (San Jose Sharks) earlier than eliminating regular-season division champion Bakersfield (Edmonton Oilers) in six video games. San Diego is going through Chicago (Vegas Golden Knights) within the best-of-7 Western Convention Ultimate, which is tied 1-1. Video games three, four and 5 are at San Diego, beginning Wednesday.Eakins got here to San Diego after going 36-63-14 with the Oilers in 2013-14 and 2014-15. When the Geese moved their AHL affiliate from Norfolk, Virginia, to San Diego in 2015, they turned to Eakins, who has a 154-95-23 document in 4 seasons.However his success has gone past wins and losses. Former San Diego gamers to advance to Anaheim embody ahead Nick Ritchie and defensemen Brandon Montour and Shea Theodore. His newest crop of expertise might play a key function within the Geese’ rebuilding plan, particularly after this playoff run. Among the many proficient younger gamers in San Diego are forwards Max Comtois, Max Jones, Isac Lundestrom, and Sam Metal.This isn’t Eakins’ first profitable AHL stint. In 4 seasons at Toronto, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate, he was 157-114-41. His groups received two division titles and reached the Calder Cup Ultimate in 2012. Rocky Thompson: Chicago (Vegas Golden Knights)Thompson has two division titles in his two seasons as a professional coach.The Golden Knights chosen Thompson to be a key determine in constructing their AHL program, however he confronted a novel problem. With time wanted to start biking draft picks into their AHL roster, the Golden Knights had numerous gamers on mortgage from the St. Louis Blues final season who needed to be blended into the lineup.However Chicago’s roster this season has been strictly Golden Knights prospects, and the expertise pipeline is wanting sturdy. Chicago had a Western Convention-best 98 factors whereas creating younger defensemen Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan and Zach Whitecloud.Thompson got here to Chicago after two seasons with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. The Golden Knights employed him for his or her AHL affiliate 10 days after Windsor received the Memorial Cup in 2017.Thompson is 41 however has 12 seasons of teaching expertise. He was an assistant for 3 seasons with Edmonton of the Western Hockey League, then spent 4 seasons as an AHL coach within the Oilers group earlier than taking the identical function with the NHL membership. He additionally performed 11 professional seasons. Jap ConferenceSheldon Keefe: Toronto (Toronto Maple Leafs) Keefe’s identify isn’t any secret in hockey circles.He led Toronto to the Calder Cup final season and has his workforce in place to change into the primary repeat champion since Hershey in 2009 and 2010. Although final season ended with a championship, Keefe’s work this season is perhaps even higher. Toronto handled goaltending instability for a lot of the primary half, a crush of key accidents and a North Division that included the second- and third-best groups within the AHL in Syracuse (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Rochester (Buffalo Sabres).However Toronto swept Rochester within the first spherical and Cleveland (Columbus Blue Jackets) within the second to arrange a 3rd journey to the Jap Convention Ultimate in Keefe’s 4 seasons as coach. Toronto had swept 4 of six playoff sequence relationship to the start of the 2018 postseason earlier than splitting the primary two video games of the convention last towards Charlotte, which took a 2-1 lead within the best-of-7 sequence with a 5-1 win at Toronto on Tuesday. Video games four and 5 are at Toronto on Thursday and Friday.The 38-year-old has a regular-season document of 189-87-28. Amongst his former gamers to succeed in the NHL are forwards William Nylander, Andreas Johnsson, and Frederik Gauthier, and there seems to be to be extra expertise on the best way to the Maple Leafs. Mike Vellucci: Charlotte (Carolina Hurricanes)Vellucci hasn’t wanted lengthy to search out his footing within the AHL.In his second AHL season, the 52-year-old received the Louis A.R. Pieri Award because the league’s excellent coach after Charlotte led the league with 51 wins and 110 factors. Charlotte had the top-ranked penalty kill within the AHL whereas ending fifth in targets scored and second in targets towards. Charlotte defeated Windfall (Boston Bruins) in 4 video games and swept Hershey (Washington Capitals) to get to the convention last towards Toronto.Vellucci spent 14 seasons within the Ontario Hockey League as a coach with Plymouth and twice received the OHL’s Coach of the Yr award. His Plymouth alumni embody forwards James Neal (Calgary Flames), Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars), Vincent Trocheck (Florida Panthers) and Tom Wilson (Washington Capitals).

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