I spoke with Manchester Monarchs head coach Mark Morris earlier in the week to detail the success he’s had in a coaching career that has generated 300 wins at both the U.S. collegiate and professional level. No other coach in hockey has ever been able to boast such an accomplishment.
In speaking with Morris and several players, it is clear that his ability to communicate with his players, or as he put it – “making sure you’re getting through to your players and have an open relationship with them so that they feel free to converse with you or your assistants” – has had an impact on his success in developing players. 13 different Kings have at one point benefited from Morris’ teaching.
According to Tyler Toffoli, “He definitely made me earn everything that I got – my ice time, my power play and penalty kill. He just made sure he was on me all the time, and it was just trying to get me better every day,”
“He tries to make everybody feel comfortable. He always has a really young team, and I think he has a core group of guys that have been there. I think the players definitely help out and are always there for each other if you need anything, but at the same time he’s always there to talk to. Obviously he’s got to be hard on everyone, so he kind of plays both sides.”
LAKings.com: Mark Morris: An Open Door
In speaking with Morris, several topics that we discussed didn’t fully make it into the feature.
Morris, on coaching Willie Mitchell at Clarkson University:
Willie was a strong-willed guy, very confident in his abilities. He had a quick temper, and when he arrived on his recruiting trip, he showed up with his fight tapes. He was a big, strong kid, and he always seemed to be doing more knowing full well that he wanted to be an NHLer. So his commitments to his eating habits and his training methods were always far and away beyond any of his teammates at the time. When he came to us, he was a kid that really had to watch his weight. He really tried to watch his diet to make sure that he could keep his weight down, and looking at him today you’d never know that at one point in time that he might have been a little chunkier than he is now. He’s a specimen.
Morris, what he’s watching when he’s watching Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli playing for the Kings:
I guess like all coaches do, you want to make sure they’re thorough with their games. We know where their strengths are, and we also know the areas of the game that they need to patch up. Being a defensive minded guy, I always want to make sure that our guys are responsible and accountable, and it looks as though they’re earning the trust of the coaching staff of the Kings.