The Toronto Marlies have appointed Michael Dyck and Eric Wellwood as assistant coaches to work alongside new head coach, John Gruden.
Both are intriguing hires, with a 20-year age gap between the two representing just one of many notable differences between the two newest members of the Toronto Marlies‘ coaching staff.
Michael Dyck has spent a 25+ coaching career almost exclusively in the Western Hockey League.
Beginning his career as an assistant coach in 1996-97 with Medicine Hat Tigers, the 54-year-old held the same role for Lethbridge Hurricanes (five seasons) and Vancouver Giants (three seasons).
Dyck returned to Lethbridge for his first head-coaching appointment before opting to return to Vancouver. He took on both Scouting and Director of Player Development positions for the Giants.
The Lethbridge native has served as head coach of the Vancouver Giants for the past five seasons, posting a record of 144-120-25. In his first year, Vancouver recorded 101 points and made it to the playoff final only to lose against Prince Albert Raiders (112 points) in an enthralling seven-game series.
Giants players drafted into the NHL during Dyck’s tenure include goaltender Trent Miner (202nd – Colorado), defenseman Bowen Byram (4th – Colorado), and forwards Justin Sourdif (87th – Florida), Zack Ostapchuk (39th – Ottawa), Jaden Lipinski (112th – Calgary), and Samuel Honzek (16th – Calgary).
Internationally, Dyck was an assistant coach with the Canadian World Junior team, earning a silver medal in 2021 and a gold medal in 2022 as well as a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF World Championships. He also was a member of the coaching staff at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Youth Olympic Games, and the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
This is his first professional coaching assignment, but the Canadian’s well-rounded experience developing players is integral to this appointment.
Wellwood is the more familiar name due to his playing career and his time already spent within the Toronto organization. Despite the clear Toronto association with his brother Kyle, there isn’t a whiff of nepotism as Eric has already thrived in a relatively short coaching career.
Forced to retire in 2013 following a skate cut injury to his ankle that almost put his life at risk, Wellwood opted to throw himself straight into coaching. The Philadelphia organization offered their former forward a player development role, but a desire to be behind the bench led to Wellwood accepting an assistant coaching position in the Ontario Hockey League.
He served as an assistant coach with the Oshawa Generals (2014-16) and the Windsor Spitfires (2013-14). With the Generals, he captured the OHL Championship and the Memorial Cup in 2014-15.
After a stint coaching Windsor’s University team, Wellwood returned to the Flint Firebirds for his first head-coaching position (spent one year as an associate coach following Oshawa). It was a case of what might have been in the 2019-20 season — before the pandemic ended the season, Flint had won 40 of 63 games (second in the West).
After the following campaign was canceled, Toronto jumped to appoint Wellwood as head coach and Assistant General Manager of the Newfoundland Growlers. In the past two campaigns, the Growlers have compiled a regular-season record of 90-42-7 and progressed to the Eastern Conference Finals both years.
The Ontario native’s knowledge of the Toronto organization and many of its prospects — allied with his successful stint in the ECHL — were all key facets of this appointment. During the tenure of Kyle Dubas, the organization looked to promote not only players but coaches within the system. Whether that’s the case in this instance or if Wellwood was simply the best candidate available regardless is a matter of perspective.