— Orlando Solar Bears (@OrlandoHockey) June 30, 2015
The Toronto Maple Leafs organization have made another coaching hire, but just maybe not quite as big as the Mike Babcock one.
Former USHL bench boss Anthony Noreen has been named the new coach of the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears. Noreen had been the head coach of the Youngstown Phantoms since 2011, and won USHL Coach of the Year honours this season after leading the Phantoms to a 40-14-6 record. During his time in Youngstown, Noreen helped develop NHL prospects such as Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor, Arizona’s Maxim Letunov, and Toronto’s very own J.J. Piccinich.
Maple Leafs Assistant General Manager Kyle Dubas had this to say about the hiring…
Over the last number of seasons I’ve had the chance to watch Anthony’s teams in Youngstown, and have always come away impressed with the pace, energy and structure that his teams play with.
Anthony comes very highly regarded amongst those in junior and college hockey. He’s very well connected and his teams continually produce excellent results and develop players for the next level. We are very excited that Anthony will be working with our prospects in Orlando.
One imagines that Dubas had a fairly large role in Noreen’s hiring, as Dubas hopes to implement a deep, baseball-like farm system that sees the Leafs develop prospects over several levels of competition at once. That makes the Toronto Marlies your ‘AAA’ club, while Orlando will function as a sort of ‘AA’ team.
Last season, a number of Leafs prospects, including Garret Sparks, Matt Finn, Ryan Rupert and Tyler Biggs, spent time with the Solar Bears.