Leafs Promote Spott, Hire Horacek

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 11 2014 12:57PM

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The search for assistant coaches is over. The Toronto Maple Leafs have promoted Marlies head coach Steve Spott to the big club, while also adding Peter Horacek to the fold.

Peter Horacek

Horacek has significant experience as a coach at the professional level, mostly as an assistant. His first gig came in 1987-88 as the assistant of the IHL's Saginaw Hawks, but he's also preformed these duties with the Flint Spirits (IHL), Orlando Solar Bears (IHL, now Toronto's ECHL affiliate), and for just about a decade, the Nashville Predators. 

Horacek's first head coaching job was with the Nashville Knights of the ECHL, but has also ran the bench with the St. Thomas Wildcats (Colonial Hockey League), the Flint Generals (CoHL), as well as the Solar Bears, Trenton Titans (ECHL), and Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). He started out this year as the head coach of the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, but after the Florida Panthers had a rough start to the year, was promoted on an interim basis. The Panthers went 26-36-4 under him.

Horacek has one championship under his belt (won in 2001 with the Solar Bears), and hails from Stoney Creek, Ontario (just outside Hamilton). 

Steve Spott

You're probably much more familiar with Steve Spott. He spent the past season as the head coach of the Toronto Marlies, replacing Dallas Eakins after he headed to Edmonton. In a year where many expected the Marlies to falter, they finished with 96 points and a division championship for the third consecutive year, to go with a surprising 10-4 run that brought them to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.

Prior to his time with the Marlies, Spott racked up 17 years of coaching experience, heading to the Plymouth Whalers before going to the Kitchener Rangers. He spent several years as an assistant between the two teams, before getting his first taste of an OHL head coaching job in 2009. From there, Spott's first team failed to make the playoffs, but were in the 0.625 to 0.675 range for the years that followed, though they never made their way into the finals. Spott has also coached for Team Canada at the World Juniors.

Spott is another coach who encourages the "grit, character, and toughness" mould, occasionally to a fault. In the case of the Marlies, however, it didn't often get in the way. He can lean towards players he's familiar with from time to time (Andrew Crescenzi prior to the trade for Brandon Kozun comes to mind), so don't be surprised if he steps up to bat for the younger kids, and to an extent, former Kitchener Rangers forward David Clarkson.

Good Moves?

To be honest, I thought that the Leafs were going to take a serious run at Marlies assistants Gord Dineen and Derek King. They've been there forever and can help with specific special teams, but I guess that doesn't line up in this situation. Reports are out that the Leafs were specifically wanting guys with head coaching experience, which I guess means that Randy Carlyle will be on the hot seat as the season progresses. 

Whether the two are fit to replace him if a firing happens is a different question; both have little experience.Reports suggest that the Leafs wanted head coaching experience in this move. One has good success at a lower level, the other has NHL experience but didn't go so well (mind you, his team was bad).

Systematically, they can't be worse than last year. At least they don't employ the same breakout or tap ins that give up the puck. The Marlies were a negative shots-for team as well, which leaves some room for motives. Cam will have more on Horachek in a bit.

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I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
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#1 Tyler Sage
July 11 2014, 02:15PM
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Steve Spott will help with the young players. He has experience coaching Kadri, Riley and Clarkson. Horackek is an interesting coaching move. How will he fit within the dressing room? One thing is for sure, they have to change how the Leafs play going forward.

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#2 Dr UO
July 11 2014, 05:30PM
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They need to create depth, and the depth they are creating is great so far; but they need to have more than 6 def.

http://www.capgeek.com/mapleleafs/depth-chart/

If they get 7 men defense, I will be happy with the changes they are making, because 6 man dee does not work!

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#3 leafer4life
July 11 2014, 08:53PM
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I'm glad the leafs got rid of those assistant coaches (cronin/farish etc) that were leading to the leafs poor compete and lack of possession. These guys along with Randy should be able produce a dramatic playoff rebound

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#4 FlareKnight
July 12 2014, 10:31AM
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I'm somewhat curious how the Leafs use Rielly this coming season. Mostly kidding, but was something how he pretty much forgot he had a guy named Rielly on his team for the WJC. Spott seems like another type that will abuse his favorites and good luck to the rest.

Not much to say about the moves overall though. Seems like solid guys. But will have to see if they can bring enough to make a big difference.

Will just cross some fingers.

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