Gord Dineen, assistant coach of Marlies from 2010-2014 and head coach in 2014-15, will be staying on with the Toronto Marlies and working with new head coach Sheldon Keefe in the associate’s role.
Gord Dineen stays with AHL Toronto Marlies as associate coach. He had been replaced as head coach by Sheldon Keefe.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) July 2, 2015
The Marlies had some positive developments last season under Dineen’s watch, headlined by Brown’s rookie year, Byron Froese’s emergence, a nice step forward from goaltender Christopher Gibson, and the likes of Nylander, Leipsic, Brown, Loov, Leivo and Carrick (when with the team) leading a late charge into a playoff berth. Dineen hanging around seems like a good thing after a reasonably successful season in which the Marlies made the playoffs amidst a transition into more of a youth and development-oriented outfit under Dubas.
As for Keefe and Dineen’s assistants, Keefe has brought some of his SSM staff on board.
Gord Dineen will stay on as assistant. A.J. MacLean joining staff, was with Sault Ste. Marie prior
— Kyle Cicerella (@KyleTheReporter) July 2, 2015
AJ MacLean is the son of former Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean (now an assistant in Anaheim). He was hired by the Greyhounds prior to the 2013-14 season, after wrapping up his playing career.
“He has some experience there. But obviously the biggest experience he has is time spent around NHL people, with his dad obviously leading the way. Through his dad’s career, he’s spent a lot of time in NHL dressing rooms.
“He’s got a lot of great ideas, and most importantly, just a lot of energy and passion,” Keefe said.
Said Dubas of MacLean:
“It was up to Sheldon in the end, but I just thought AJ did the best job on the practical side of things. He’s a natural at communicating and diagramming hockey,” Dubas said. “It was a move made to allow Sheldon to bring in one of his own assistant coaches.”
Correction, Dineen is listed as associate while MacLean is an assistant. Richard Rotenberg named performance coach, another Soo relation
— Kyle Cicerella (@KyleTheReporter) July 2, 2015
Rotenberg has worked as the Greyhound’s athletic therapist since 2011.
MacLean and Rotenberg will join video coach Ryan Ward and goaltending coach Piero Greco, who remain in their roles from last season.
Froese Set to Sign Contract with Leafs
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 2, 2015
Originally drafted in the fourth round by Chicago, Froese was let go after his entry-level contract expired and bounced around the AHL and ECHL. Marlies GM Kyle Dubas initially brought Froese in on an amateur tryout agreement in December; he was toiling away for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL at the time. Dubas was Froese’s agent in the past, and Marlies assistant coach Ben Simon (now with the Grand Rapids Griffins) had a history with Froese having coached him in both Rockford and Cincinnati. His production in the ECHL was also quite good at the time, posting 24 points in 17 games.
By January, Froese earned an AHL contract for the remainder of the season, and later on in March found a good fit centering William Nylander and Matt Frattin. Those are very good AHL linemates – Nylander is a high-end prospect who is already approaching a point per game down there, Frattin is in this weird spot where he’s too good for the AHL but not able to stick in the NHL — and that undoubtedly helped his numbers down the stretch. But Froese earned the opportunity by producing with all sorts of line mates before hand, and continued to make whatever line he played on better. He led the Marlies in points per game with 42 points in 46 games. He added four more points in five playoff games.
Gord Dineen used him in all situations last season and at all three forward positions.
It’s a nice little story considering where Froese started the season at. It’s doubtful even Froese, when he was playing for Cincinnati in the ECHL at the beginning of the year, thought an NHL contract was in his immediate future, but here he is just six months later with one (soon to be) in hand heading into 2015 training camp.
Froese has his limitations and still at this stage remains an outside shot to become an NHL regular — He’s not blessed with high end skills or speed, but he’s worked on his game to the point where he’s solid in all areas, and is a smart, high-effort player who Sheldon Keefe will be able to slot in just about anywhere again next season; a safe bet seems to be at centre given they’ll most likely need him there (will be interesting to see if William Nylander shifts into the middle, though).
Froese will be 24 for the majority of next season (taken in the same draft as Kadri, and six months younger), and Leafs fans should become more familiar with him this year through training camp and preseason. It’s not the traditional path into the NHL at this point, but at 24 he’s not really behind the timeline of, say, a prospect who completes a full college stint before embarking on the big leagues. Still a long shot, but you never know.