The Toronto Maple Leafs announced the hiring of Dean Chynoweth as Assistant Coach on Monday. Most recently, he was an Assistant Coach with the Carolina Hurricanes for the past three seasons.
Roughly a month ago, Elliotte Friedman reported he was granted permission to speak with other teams:
Carolina assistant Dean Chynoweth given permission by team to examine other opportunities. Obviously, a lot of interest in the Hurricanes’ coaching situation — he’s the only member of the staff at this time with permission to look elsewhere. We should have more clarity next week
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 11, 2021
In Carolina, he oversaw their defense and penalty kill. The Hurricanes defense ranked in the top 10 in each of his three seasons on the job – finishing third and fourth overall, respectively, in the past two seasons. The Hurricanes allowed a league-low 72.95 shot attempts against per 60 and led the league in unblocked attempts against with 54.75 per 60 minutes while shorthanded this past season. Their goaltending, for what it’s worth, also ranked fifth in the league in shorthanded save percentage.
Under Chynoweth, the Hurricanes didn’t mind using star players on the penalty kill, but they also mixed in a number of more traditional, bottom-six type forwards, led by Brock McGinn and Jordan Staal. Sebastien Aho was third among forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game last game, rounded out with Jordan Martinook and Jesper Fast (he also liked to use Teuvo Teravainen but he only played 21 games this season). Both McGinn and Martinook are pending unrestricted free agents.
Carolina has also been a solid defensive team the past few seasons, and Chynoweth allocated ice time to the group in a similar fashion you’d expect on the Leafs. He had three players averaging 22+ minutes per night (Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, and Dougie Hamilton), a 20-minute defender (Brady Skjei), and a collection of third-pairing minute eaters playing 16 minutes or under per night (Jake Gardiner, Jake Bean, Haydn Fleury, etc.). The Leafs makeup is fairly similar with a strong overall group but one in which you would load up the top four while managing the third pairing minutes depending on the situation.
Chynoweth is now entering his third decade as a coach, as he started back in the 1998-1999 season with the Utah Grizzlies of the IHL. This will be his seventh season in the NHL – three years assistant coach the Islanders and three years with the Hurricanes. He was also a Head Coach in the AHL for four straight years (they missed the playoffs every year).
When he was hired by the Hurricanes in 2018, he noted:
“You’re constantly evolving. You have to adapt. If you don’t adapt then you’re probably not going to last very long. I’m always eager to learn, take things in and apply things when they’re needed… The game’s evolved over the years where we’re developing on the go now. It used to be if you weren’t ready you were in the minors. The game’s gotten faster and younger and you have to be able to teach on the go.”
“When you’re building relationships it’s obviously not just on the bench, on the ice in practice. It’s getting to know the individual, family stuff, everything else. You want to know what makes each player tick. You don’t coach 20 players; you coach 20 individuals. You have to find that way with one guy may be different than the other guy.”
Chynoweth is coming from an excellent program where he oversaw tangible success and improvement in key areas—all positives from the Leafs perspective.
What this also appears to mean, so far, is that Manny Maholtra will be back in charge of the power play. It’s possible that roles will switch but it would make sense to assume that Chynoweth, who oversaw defense and the penalty kill in Carolina, will seamlessly replace the responsibilities of Dave Hakstol, who oversaw defense and the penalty kill the past few seasons.