Marlies on the Ball; Gilbert Not Renewed

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    While the Leafs made the decision not to renew Marlies coach Greg Gilbert, some of the players are truly on the ball.

    Some Marlies have traded their skates for runners, augmenting any off season training program with participation in a Tier II ball hockey league.

    Marlies, Darryl Boyce (3-5-5-10), Phil Oreskovic (5-2-3-5) – Andrew and Jason Oreskovic too – and Kris Newbury (2-0-1-1) are ranked there.

    The biggest surprise, Justin Pogge - throwing away more than just skates – ranked third in scoring (5-5-2-7). Yes, that was right, he’s playing out, not as a goalie.

    Those who’ve played organized ball hockey, know how an orange ball hockey ball behaves very differently from a puck. The ball hooks and curves and is quite unpredictable. The game is different, a game of passing and positioning more so than ice hockey. Add a floating blueline (once the zone is gained onside, the red line at center becomes the ‘blue’ ine to clear the zone .. defensemen set up in the offensive part of center ice instead of inside the blueline) and it changes the complexion of the game.

    The one good aspect of playing in a polished cement floor rink is the necessity to keep feet moving, a trait that scouts love to see with players on the ice. There’s no way of floating out there in a ball hockey court. It could be a very good experience for all those playing it out.

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    Greg Gilbert

    Brian Burke, president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Friday that the club will not renew the contract of Toronto Marlies head coach Greg Gilbert. Marlies assistant coaches Joe Paterson and Jim Hughes have been given permission to pursue other opportunities.

    “Greg has been a valuable and loyal member of our organization,” said Burke. “We appreciate the dedication of the Marlies’ coaching staff and we wish them well in their future endeavours.”

    Greg Gilbert completed his third season behind the bench with the Marlies in 2008-09. Prior to joining the Marlies, Gilbert coached the Worcester IceCats (AHL), the Calgary Flames and the Mississauga IceDogs (OHL).

    Courtesy of mapleleafs.com

    The drastic change undergone in minor league affiliate. Its a big impact for Gilbert.

    I’ve found the coach was put into a difficult position starting from the first season at Ricoh, taking the upstart Marlies to a North Division crown, and a deep run into the third round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, one series away from the Finals, primarily with a lunch pail crew. Injuries to Robbie Earl and Darryl Boyce and omissions like Jeremy Williams and Anton Stralman forced him to juggle secondary talent getting the most out of the players in the lineup.

    He had the biggest impact with John Mitchell, who looked ready for an NHL spot during the 2007-08 Calder Cup Playoffs, earning the spot at training camp, and further a developing third line center role for the parent club, Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Gilbert will likely be eulogized as the coach that decided veteran Scott Clemmensen would start in the playoffs over Justin Pogge, much to the head-scratching chagrin of Leafs fans, media and some scouts. The decision in retrospect wasn’t bad in terms of performance from the veteran netminder – simply outstanding at crucial times with the Baby Buds on the ropes. But it didn’t do much for the development for Pogge. Or did it?

    Pogge nailed to the bench, may in retrospect be one of the best for his long-term development. To be a professional, one has to learn to conduct himself as a professional, and this situation certainly was a deep lesson for the young netminder.

    Last season, with even less offensive talent in the lineup, the Marlies struggled into the playoffs and bowed out to the Manitoba Moose in the opening round.

    The essence of being a good coach is using the talent in the lineup to it’s fullest value, with the added responsibility of developing the talent at the minor league level for preperation for the NHL.

    Gilbert was a primarily defensive coach with a dissimilar style to Leafs bench boss, Ron wilson, and quite possibly one of the reasons he wasn’t renewed.

    Listening to him talk about the game emphasized a strong back end leading to transition and scoring chances. A very smart x’s and o’s tactician, who stressed accountability and execution, regardless of game results. He was very open with his feelings, without tipping his hat to strategy.

    Not likely to be without a job for long, Gilbert earned a lot of accolades for the work done with the Marlies.

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