Brad Treliving has a long laundry list of tasks to accomplish over the next few weeks.
The new Maple Leafs General Manager has to attend to the Auston Matthews contract situation, decide whether Sheldon Keefe stays on as head coach, oversee (to the extent he’s allowed by the league) the team’s upcoming draft, and make a plethora of other player personnel and off-ice personnel decisions throughout the organization this offseason.
One of those decisions a little lower down his extensive list is the appointment of a head coach for the farm team after Greg Moore’s tenure as Toronto Marlies head coach came to an end on May 19. His successor will likely not be found or announced for a while, with more pressing needs to be addressed.
As of the time of writing, Marlies General Manager Ryan Hardy appears to have remained in place and has started a preliminary search for the eighth head coach in franchise history.
Previous hires by the Marlies have included three internal appointments, two from the OHL, one coach from the NHL ranks, and Greg Moore out of the USHL.
There isn’t the same amount of chatter in hockey circles when AHL head coaching jobs are up for grabs in the same way the NHL operates, but many refer to the Marlies‘ job as the 33rd most desirable head coaching position in North American professional hockey on account of the resources available — and the spotlight placed on — Toronto’s AHL bench boss. I’ve compiled the following shortlist of candidates for the Marlies‘ top job with the caveat that I have no inside knowledge.
It would be a little surprising if Toronto were able to entice Love to coach the Marlies. A year after making it to the third round, the back-to-back AHL Coach of the Year led the Calgary Wranglers to a regular-season title before losing to the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the Pacific Division Final (the Firebirds are currently up 2-0 in Calder Cup Final). He’s amassed an impressive 96-33-11 record since making the jump to the AHL from the WHL.
The BC native’s heart was seemingly set on the Flames’ top job, but after getting passed up for the role in favour of Flames assistant coach Ryan Huska, could Brad Treliving encourage his former employee to move to the east coast with a salary bump and the carrot of an NHL job down the line? Frank Seravalli recently reported that Love is considering all of his options after he wasn’t the successful candidate in Calgary.
Love is clearly hungry for an NHL opportunity first and foremost, but Treliving/Hardy would be remiss not to pick up the phone.
The former NHL centerman took an eight-year hiatus from the sport at the professional level after retiring as a Boston Bruin in 2011. Since returning as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, Savard has been turning heads and has received some buzz as a future NHL head coaching candidate.
The 45-year-old has spent the last two seasons in the OHL as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires, guiding them to consecutive 44-win seasons. The number-one seeds were the victim of a shocking first-round sweep at the hands of the Kitchener Rangers in this spring’s playoff, but the season before, Windsor made the finals before losing out to Hamilton.
There was a lot of chatter surrounding Alex Tanguay and a possible appointment in Calgary. That didn’t come to fruition, but it remains entirely possible that the current Detroit Red Wings assistant coach is searching for another opportunity to make his mark.
There isn’t a larger AHL market in which to make a strong impression than Toronto, and if Tanguay wishes to sell himself to potential NHL suitors, the Marlies would be as good of a showcase as any in which to prove himself in his first head-coaching role.
The Quebec native is no stranger to the AHL, with previous assistant coaching experience with the Iowa Wild. Tanguay would certainly be a high-profile hiring.
The 50-year-old Ohio native is yet to hold a coaching position in the professional game despite an extensive NCAA career. However, Leaman has turned heads while turning the Providence program around, and the Friars recently signed him to a multi-year contract extension.
NHL eyes have tracked Leaman since he became head coach of Team USA U20 men’s team, and it would not be a surprise if he’s already received job offers this summer.
Robitaille was fired at the end of May by Gatineau Olympiques despite one more season left on his contract as GM and head coach. The reason for his dismissal has not been discussed publicly by the team, but with a long track record of success in the QMJHL, Robitaille appears ready to venture into the world of professional coaching.
The Montreal native has vast AHL experience as a player and has been coaching since hanging up his skates in 2011, making the playoffs in six of seven QMJHL seasons and winning six playoff rounds over that span.
Letowski is one of a plethora of NHL assistant coaches who would be interested and intrigued by a highly sought-after head coaching role in the AHL to further his career.
The Montreal Canadiens picked up Letowski from the OHL following the abbreviated 2019-20 season, but his route to a head coaching role for the Canadiens appears to be blocked for the immediate future with Martin St. Louis leading the way for Les Habitant.
The Thunder Bay native enjoyed limited success in the OHL (Windsor and Sarnia), but he often made the most of the rosters at his disposal. He was highly sought after before Montreal pounced on him for an AC role back in 2021.