The upward transfer of talent has officially begun for the Toronto Marlies, except it’s not among the player personnel.
Ward looks a solid appointment having previously worked with the Islanders for four seasons and in two World Championships for the USA.
Replacing him at Ricoh Coliseum will be Justin Bourne.
Unusual for someone in this kind of coaching role, his name will be known by many.
Bourne’s playing career never amounted to much after his college days: a total of 85 games split between the AHL and mostly the ECHL, before a broken jaw forced early retirement.
The 32 year old hasn’t looked back since, becoming a far more successful hockey writer than he ever was a player.
Bourne’s article, “It’s time to end the use of gay slurs in hockey,” written for USA Today in 2009, certainly first brought him to my attention and went some way breaking down the barriers in regards to the homophobic nature in professional sport and especially hockey.
Having had various articles featured in other high profiles titles including the Hockey News, Bourne joined The Score. He was more than a feature writer — the B.C native turned his hand as a stats analyst and appears open to new ideas.
His appointment, then, seems very in-tune with the new look Toronto approach of free-thinking individuals who aren’t afraid to put across their views.
If you take a look at Bourne’s Twitter feed, you’ll see first hand evidence of this. If you don’t already follow him, I recommend doing so.
This is an interesting acquisition by the Toronto organization and one that sits well with me. It’s all about harnessing the best young brains in the game, and the Marlies now have a head coach, assistant coach, video coach and GM, none of whom are above the age of 35.
For a list of Bourne’s systems analysis and player breakdowns, check out this reddit thread.