With John Stevens’ services locked up, one of the ongoing considerations Rob Blake and company will shift their focus to will be the hiring of assistant coaches.
That is, of course, on top of planning for the expansion draft, the NHL draft, meeting with pro and amateur scouts, working towards contracts for Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli and others and intently following the Ontario Reign’s playoff efforts, all while continuing to shape the organizational foundation from which he and Team President Luc Robitaille plan to do business.
So, at this moment, there isn’t a pressing need to fill the assistant positions, and Blake and Stevens have not yet spoken in depth about the structure of his staff and how he intends to run it.
“I don’t expect anything real soon by any means,” Blake said. “There’s lots of aspects we have to look at on that front.”
As for Stevens, one coach whose expertise he has solicited is the man he’s following behind the bench.
“I’ve sat down with Darryl [Sutter],” he said. “We’ve gotten together lots of times. I actually met him with when I was going through the process and just wanted to get his thoughts and guidance, quite honestly. Darryl and I are good friends and have an enormous amount of respect for each other, and I have sat down and talked to him through this process, and he’s been very supportive.”
That shouldn’t be any sort of surprise, given the immense bonds forged between the two since December, 2011, and Sutter’s rigid loyalty towards his former players and staff. He wasn’t referring to Stevens at the time, but in 2014-15, Sutter did say, “Get them maritime coaches. They’re all good coaches,” and Stevens is a native of Campbellton, New Brunswick.
But in looking forward, eventually Stevens will thoroughly consult with the reformed hockey operations arm in coming to his ultimate decision.
“Yes, it’ll be with Rob and with Luc’s input, but I think what you’re going to find now is a lot of people are going to be reaching out. You’ll have guys reaching out that you didn’t even know were interested, and we’ll put a profile together on what we’re looking for,” Stevens said. “I think it’s important to get different guys – guys that can cover different areas of the game. I mean, if you have three of me, you probably wouldn’t like it, right? So let’s get somebody that can really work with our defense and continue to develop those guys and be a good teacher and let’s have somebody that’s going to really focus on the power play. I think that’s important. Somebody who can focus on the offensive side of the game, offensive concepts, and then can really focus in on the detail and what’s going to make us successful there.”
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) April 24, 2017