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Breaking: Leafs hire former NHL star to coach affiliate

The former 20+ goal scorer has resigned his current position immediately and will join the Leafs organization for 2018-19.

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In case you missed the news earlier this month, the ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) added a new franchise in St. John’s, Newfoundland to begin play in the 2018-19 season. The Newfound Growlers will play in the league’s Eastern Conference and is the official ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs, of course, have a long history with the St. John’s market as the city was home to the team’s AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Maple Leafs from 1991 until 2005. In 2005, the parent club elected to move the franchise from St. John’s to Toronto and rebrand as the Toronto Marlies. St. John’s also briefly housed the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, affiliate to the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets from 2011 until 2017.

Well, with the reintroduction of pro hockey to the St. John’s market the Growlers have decided to go local with the coaching staff, naming Fermeuse, Newfoundland native Ryan Clowe as the team’s first head coach in franchise history.

The former San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils forward has been an assistant coach with the Devils under head coach John Hynes the past two seasons. Clowe, 35 years old, is just three years removed from an NHL career where he scored a respectable 112 goals and 309 points in 491 career NHL games. 

He was signed to a massive, five year, $24.25 million contract with the Devils as a free agent in 2013, but was forced to retire just two seasons later as a result of post-concussion symptoms. The Devils medical staff refused to clear him for return following a particularly bad concussion sustained early in the 2014-15 season. In total he played just 56 games for the Devils franchise after signing his five year agreement.

The St. John’s Telegram’s Robin Short broke news of the Clowe hiring by the Leafs organization and even connected the dots between Clowe and former Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello:

Clowe, who was just inducted into the Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Fame last weekend, joins the Growlers after a two-year stint as an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils.
Clowe will be employed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will be affiliated with the Growlers next season. That arrangement was made official during a news conference last week in St. John’s.
Clowe is said to have a close relationship with Lou Lamoriello, the man who gave him his first coaching job in New Jersey, and the former Maple Leafs’ general manager. 

It’s always interesting to see the tangled web that Lou weaves…

In any case, this seems to be a stellar signing by the Leafs organization. Congrats, Ryan and go Growlers! I mean… how cool is that logo?