Mike Babcock has been in touch with Erie Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch, according to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
Hearing that Mike Babcock has talked to Connor McDavid's coach Kris Knoblauch, amongst others, for an assistant job in Toronto.
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) June 10, 2015
With Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer reported (although not confirmed) to be joining Mike Babcock in Toronto, the Leafs have at least one more spot on the bench that needs to be filled, as former Babcock assistant Tony Granato is staying in Detroit and reworking his contract to be a part of Jeff Blashill’s staff.
Knoblauch’s accomplishments in Erie, where his teams posted records of 52-14-2-0 and 50-14-4 including an 2014-15 OHL Final appearance, will always come with the asterisk of “well, he had McDavid,” and rightfully so to some degree. However, Knoblauch came to Erie after significant success with the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice, winning the WHL championship in 2010-11 in just his first season in the head coach’s role (after three spent as an assistant). Winning almost instantly in two leagues requires some luck in terms of the rosters provided, but also is a pretty strong indicator Knoblauch knows how to coach young talent.
The report as of two todays ago was that Knoblauch is expecting to say on as the Otters coach for 2015-16 despite interviews for AHL jobs. It’s hard to picture the iron being hotter to strike than it is now for him personally. We don’t know if he’s still wavering, or if a job at the NHL level would entice him more than an AHL gig.
[quote_box_center]”I want to eventually be in the AHL someday, but I expect I will be head coach in Erie for the 2015-16 season.”[/quote_box_center]
A chat is just a chat; this doesn’t appear to be very far along in the process and it may go no further. Regardless, Babcock’s presence as a head coach does, and already has, provide the benefit of attracting some up and coming coaching talent and the Leafs should have an opportunity to add another good hockey mind on their bench.
A young coach like Knoblauch might see it as a good opportunity to develop under one of the best while knowing there is considerable built-in job security with Babcock’s contractual commitment in Toronto (no concerns about the Steve Spott scenario). You wonder if the Leafs have been or will be knocking on the Oshawa Generals’ DJ Smith’s door at some point as well.