Although this speculation may be rather farfetched, after hearing a room full of scouts discussing the topic at an Ontario Hockey League game, it got me thinking about the “what if?”
Although Doug Gilmour recently signed a five-year contract extension as head coach with the Kingston Frontenacs in July 2010, there have been recent stipulations that suggest an earlier than expected exit from the OHL club.
Leafs’ head coach Ron Wilson has been facing some criticism for his coaching tactics lately. When Gilmour gains more experience coaching, he would make for a perfect fit as the coach of his former NHL team.
Although Gilmour had a brief stint coaching the Toronto Marlies in 2008, his reason for leaving was simply to return to his roots and hometown of Kingston, Ontario to serve as the head coach of the OHL club. Gilmour’s relationship with the Leafs has remained positive, and his style of coaching and expectations of his players fit the bill to what Brian Burke wants in a hockey club.
It’s no surprise that “killer” is loved by fans across Leafs Nation, and what better way to generate some positive media for the club than have a fan favorite and long-time Leaf captain man the bench. At the same time, with people unimpressed of his current coaching track record, it could tarnish his reputation knowing the Toronto media.
Seeing Gilmour coach many games in the OHL has proven to me how passionate and knowledgeable Gilmour remains to be of his preferred sport, and although he has received some criticism in Kingston, there’s no question the energy he can bring to the table while coaching a team.
His first season with the Frontenacs was somewhat of a struggle as he took over the team in its rebuilding stage. But, in 2009-2010, he led the team to a second place finish in the OHL’s East Division with a record of 33-30-5, and has brought the club to a clinched playoff spot in the 2010-2011 season. They are currently sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Gilmour’s great hockey personality enables him to identify with the players he coaches and he has helped develop some great talent while coaching Kingston.
Florida Panthers first round draft pick Erik Gudbranson commented that Gilmour’s coaching helped him regroup after a roller coaster start to the 2010-2011 season with the Panthers, where he was unable to reach a contract agreement with the club, and also prepare him for the 2011 World Junior tournament in Buffalo.
“Dougie is a great guy in the room, he’s very helpful and good with experience, and he’s shed a lot of light on situations like this for me,” Gudbranson told Meryem Ortanca in a December 2010 pre-World Junior interview. “He’s made it really easy for me to make transitions and stuff like that, and he’s built up my confidence to the point where I can come out here and play a good, solid game and I’m really happy with that.”
What Gilmour could bring to the table for the Toronto organization is not only his seasoned experience in the NHL, but his experience dealing with the Toronto media spotlight and serving as captain for many years in one of the hockey markets in the world. His Stanley Cup ring and playoff experience wouldn’t hurt the team either, who will definitely be pushing to make the playoffs for years to come.
His experience as assistant coach of the Marlies while also running the show as head coach in Kingston has surely given him a taste of what it’s like to have the responsibilities of a coach, but he still has a long way to go. Eventually, with the right staff under him, it might not be impossible.
Although this theory may be out of reach, it seems that many people who have known or worked with Gilmour see it as a possibility in the future.
Photo used under Creative Commons, courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/larrycoor/