Maple Leafs Assistant Coach Candidates: Craig Ramsay, Perry Pearn, Rick Tocchet

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According to John Shannon — note: the man who brought us the Roberto Luongo-(non)trade-got-Burke-fired report — the Maple Leafs are looking at two former NHL head coaches, Rick Tocchet and Craig Ramsay, as potential assistant coach hires. Check out our previous piece on Adam Oates here.

Craig Ramsay

Craig Ramsay has 17 years of NHL coaching experience and has mostly plied his trade as an assistant or an associate coach, thrice taking on the role as head coach – Buffalo in 1986-87 (interim), the Flyers in 2000-01, and the Thrashers’ final season of existence in 2010-11. Ramsey amassed a record of 103-98-17 as an HC, missing the playoffs with Buffalo (interim) and Atlanta and taking the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Final after taking over half way through the 200-01 season.

Ramsay dons a Cup ring from his time as an associate coach in Tampa, where he spent seven seasons, a span that included four consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, two Southeast Division titles and a Stanley Cup. A Selke Trophy winner in his time as a player, Ramsay’s focus according to the press release following his dismissal was the defense and special teams.

For years, Ramsay served as the cooler-head counterbalance to John Tortorella’s presence in the Tampa Bay dressing room, a dynamic that apparently served the team well during the Lightning’s run of success. Defenceman Brad Lukowich suggested the relationship worked due to the presence of Ramsay, as well as goalie coach Jeff Reese and captain Dave Andreychuk, serving as a buffer between Tortorella and the players.

Said GM Rick Dudley (who later hired him in Atlanta) of Ramsay’s time in Tampa:

[quote_box_center]”The simple truth is I’ve never had a doubt Craig could be a coach in this league from many years ago. I brought him into Tampa because he understood exactly what was needed. … There’s never been a doubt in my mind. This was something that I thought was long overdue. When you look for a head coach you’re looking for somebody who can bring players to their optimal level as quickly as possible, and I’ve seen him do that before.”

Dudley is quoted as saying he wants a “teacher,” someone to be an “educator on the ice.” He wants a coach with “good communication skills, good teaching skills and good technical skills.” Ramsay is one of the best teachers in the game. He is patient, quiet, low-key, supportive, forgiving of mistakes and one of the best storytellers in a league filled with great ones. His technical skills are outstanding; he can match Dudley drill-for-drill and strategy-for-strategy. He also has the experience, resume and gravitas Atlanta needs in its next coach.[/quote_box_center]

Ramsay coached Phil Kessel in Boston, where he worked as an assistant between 2007-2010 before taking the head coach job in Atlanta. Ramsay reportedly ran the powerplay in Boston to mostly good results.

Most recently, Ramsay was an assistant to Kevin Dineen in Florida for two and a bit seasons. Dineen is also looking for an NHL job, making for an interesting possibility there. Ramsay’s responsibility was the Panthers’ horrendous 30th ranked powerplay; however, in 2011-12 and 2012-13 the Panthers’ PP finished 7th and 5th respectively.

In summary, Ramsay has an extensive track record of success as an AC as well as some success as an HC in Philly, and even a dash of general managing experience while in Buffalo. A good candidate who wouldn’t be unqualified to take over a bench if worse comes to worst.

Rick Tocchet

Tocchet’s NHL head coaching experience comes in the form of 148 games as bench boss of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and five games as the Coyotes head coach while Wayne Gretzky took a leave due to his mother’s illness.

Tocchet took over the Lightning bench from the fired Barry Melrose just 16 games into the 2008-09 season; it was his first season there in the role of assistant following a few years away from the game due to Operation Slapshot, a New Jersey State Police investigation into a gambling ring run by Tocchet. Tocchet pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to promote gambling in spring of 2007, receiving two years probation.

Tocchet was fired alongside Tampa GM Brian Lawton after finishing fourth and fifth in the Southeast Division in 2008-09 and 2009-10, amassing a record of 53-69-26. Tocchet and Lawton were said to be at odds by the end of the 2009-10 season. Tocchet hasn’t coached since.

Tocchet expressed a desire to return to coaching just this week. There is some speculation the former Penguin, who won a Cup alongside Mario Lemieux in 1992, may be a candidate for a job in Pittsburgh.

Not much to go on here. He was involved with a couple of successful regular seasons in his first gig as an AC in Colorado back in 2002-03 and 2003-04, a job he accepted over a scouting position offered by the Flyers at the same time.

Perry Pearn

In addition to Adam Oates, another name that has been mentioned, this by Elliotte Friedman, is long-time NHL assistant coach Perry Pearn. Pearn’s connection to the Leafs is two fold: he coached Brendan Shanahan in New York in 2006-07 and 2007-08, and had previously worked alongside Randy Carlyle nearly two decades ago, when both were rookie NHL assistant coaches with the Jets in 95-96. Pearn has amassed a very good 654-470-168 record including a run of 15 consecutive seasons in the playoffs, a span that includes time with the Jets, Senators, Rangers and Canadiens.

Pearn coached alongside Ramsay with the Senators in the late 90s.

Most recently fired alongside Claude Noel in Winnipeg, Pearn’s name made the rounds in the media after a bizarre exit from Montreal in October of 2011. With the Canadiens off to a 1-5-2 start, GM Pierre Gauthier dismissed Pearn as assistant coach (just Pearn alone) and offered to reassign his role in the organization, an offer Pearn declined. Gauthier later fired Jacques Martin in December and promoted Randy Cunneyworth in his place before being fired himself in March of the same season.

Pearn was the special teams coach in Montreal, in charge of both the powerplay and penalty kill. At the time, the Habs were scoring at 9.4 percent on the powerplay – 29th in the League – but it was just eight games into the season. The season prior, in 2010-11, the Habs’ PK finished 7th in both the powerplay and penalty killing; in 2009-10, the Habs were 2nd on the powerplay and 12th on the penalty kill. Pearn seemed to take the fall as a scapegoat while Gauthier was starting to lose confidence in the coaching staff under Jacques Martin.

In Winnipeg, Pearn ran the penalty kill. At the time of his firing last January, the penalty kill was 12th overall, the only major category Winnipeg was in the top half of the League in.

Interestingly, Pearn has been fired twice alongside his head coach, in both Winnipeg (Noel) and New York (Renney), while the other assistants on staff kept their jobs in both cases. In Montreal, he alone was ousted in fall of 2011 while the head coach (Martin) and his other assistants remained. It could suggest Pearn has quite a bit of say behind the bench of his teams.

  • NotSince67

    Rich Tocchet?
    No better market to gamble and fix games in than Toronto!!!

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    John Shannon is putz with no cred.

  • Savo43

    Hire who wins us games and makes our young players better. Thats all i care about.

  • Waiting4LSC

    Give me someone that can install a system the Leaf players buy into, that gives confidence. The ability to reduce the number of shots, to collapse effectively, to sustain some decent offensive time would be a huge uptick. RC is a lame duck unless the team support him, and that won’t happen if he uses last year’s play book.

  • ProfessorRance

    Ramsay and Pearn sound like quiet the duo.

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/JSportsnet https://twitter.com/JSportsnet/status/475120044662194177
    Since we are talking about potential assistant coaches in Toronto, add the name Ted Dent…Hawks’ AHL Coach in Rockford…to the list.

  • Burtonboy

    He also has a Carlyle connection 

    http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=47385

  • Simmsation

    NotSince67 sounds really sketchy. Can’t see Rogers/Bell allowing that hire.

  • Simmsation

    Burtonboy This hire I can support. Lots of good info and development in CHI system and Dent would be privy to what Bowman/Quenneville are up to with analytics.

  • Burtonboy

    Simmsation Burtonboy Sounds like a new wave progressive coach to me . I like Ramsay but I do want some new blood as well who are more in tune with today’s coaching methods

  • maple1967leafs

    I just checked bo-dog,Tocchet is sitiing at 5to3 odds of getting the job  :)

  • Simmsation

    Burtonboy OK I am going to openly promote this guy Dent, good background, development guy, great system. Don’t know if they can pull it off getting him but yea, like it.

  • Simmsation

    Burtonboy Just hate that the idea came from Shannon. such a shill.

  • Burtonboy

    Simmsation Burtonboy Sounds like he has been interviewed so its seems there is mutual interest.

  • Simmsation

    maple1967leafs Tocchet will give you action right off his own book

  • Simmsation

    Burtonboy Simmsation how do you get that he has been interviewed?

  • Burtonboy

    Simmsation Burtonboy Yeah he is . I find all of Sportsnet crowd way over the top with trade rumors but the fucker is connected. For this kind of thing I suspect he has actual info rather then making up nonsense

  • maple1967leafs

    Simmsation maple1967leafs I’ll give Janet a call maybe i can just place the bet with her,since Tocchet is on his second chance already

  • Burtonboy

    Simmsation Burtonboy If his name has surfaced there is a good chance he has been interviewed all ready

  • Simmsation

    maple1967leafs Simmsation ah ha, so janet was basically running a book with Tocchet while Wayne was toiling away behind Yotes bench, yea, good times.  Hey, maybe we can get some side action with Dufner.

  • maple1967leafs

    MLSE has scheduled a news conference to announce the hiring of Rick{the greek}Tocchet

  • Simmsation

    maple1967leafs To be joined by Mike “Clubber” Milbury

  • maple1967leafs

    Simmsation maple1967leafs AKA shoeless Mike

  • Simmsation

    BREAKING NEWS: MLSE to announce hiring of Chris Nilan as Equipment Manager.

  • maple1967leafs

    Simmsation I  thought Tony Twist was getting that job

  • Simmsation

    Shannon is an idiot. He tweets out Ramsay Tocchet as candidates.  FORTY minutes later he tweets out a oh yea, Ted Dent.  Dent is a real quality candidate, no re-tread, from an amazing development system. Tocchet, that is embarrassing.  Shannon, include Dent in your original tweet.  Like the guy is just learning how to type.

  • maple1967leafs

    Simmsation He will keep naming names and hope one of them gets the job, he is an idiot,

  • WendelGilmour

    I wouldn’t be upset with any of these guys. Ramsay has a great reputation with players, and his teaching ability would be welcome here. Pearn is very highly regarded by hockey folks also. I loved the way Tocchet played, not sure about what his style is.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Hope these guys are excellent assistant coaches, because so far as I can tell the last ones bear sole responsibility for the sh!t show that was 2013-2014.

  • WendelGilmour

    Burtonboy Simmsation I want the same Bboy, a young creative influence who is innovative.

  • WendelGilmour

    MaxwellHowe So they’re the only ones held accountable, still anxious to see how the summer unfolds.

  • WendelGilmour

    Good morning.

  • MaxwellHowe

    WendelGilmour  mornin’

  • Zep2

    Good morning everyone

    Ramsay and Pearn ok. 

    Tocchet seems a stretch, he should tip his toes into coaching waters were there is less press scrutiny

    I

  • Burtonboy

    Ramsey ,Pern and Dent sound interesting . Tocchet has too much baggage for Toronto IMO

  • dlb Reggie

    my new favourite athlete is tony parker

  • dlb Reggie

    whoever becomes the assistant coaches, they will be the best choice and exactly what we need to make everyone better.
    and all of them will be perfectly capable of stepping in for the interm when Carlyle is fired mid-year.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy He has an AHL head coacing position now . Taking an Assitants job with the Leafs would be a stepping stone to a head coaching position in the NHL not another AHLjob

  • Simmsation

    CanuckUKinToronto dlb Reggie 1 year jump ball for the ACs

  • Ydargo

    Hope Smoke brought up a good point this morning on Twitter that made a lot of sense
    He was of the thought that Ramsay was being brought in because Spott is the next Leafs coach in waiting and Shanny will want an experienced coach to assist Spott along the way
    I think Regardless Ramsay is a guy I wouldn’t mind one bit as an AC

  • dlb Reggie

    the assistants will be hired to help the current coach succeed, first and foremost

  • Bruffins

    dlb Reggie
    that’s pretty difficult first job to have with a new team

  • twitting_sg

    CanuckUKinToronto dlb Reggie conspiracy question: wont the assistant questions look to undermine each other so they become the head coach later on? forget locker room cancers, this would be boardroom cancer.

  • dlb Reggie

    Bruffins
    but it’s the truth nonetheless

  • dlb Reggie

    #sarcasmalert

  • dlb Reggie

    twitting_sg
    that’s why i think a lot of people are off their rockers

  • dlb Reggie

    we need stability from top down, and Shanahan should be the final hire at the top now.  scouting departments and other things can be looked at still, but Nonis and Carlyle get to continue on.
    they don’t get to keep their jobs merely to stop making changes, but the best case scenario for this franchise is for Carlyle to be the coach still in 5 years.

  • Bruffins

    dlb Reggie
    I disagree. I say BEST CASE long term is we shit the bed next year, Nonis and Carlyle get fired. Shanny hires his choice of GM who hires his choice of coach and together they decide to rebuild or not

  • MaxwellHowe

    Has the equipment manager been fired and replaced yet?  ’cause that ahole has got to answer for those 8 straight losses

  • Bruffins

    CanuckUKinToronto
    best offence in the league, top 3 defence, and the pitching has continuously been improving for a while now