Did you hear about Sheldon Keefe’s promotion? Pretty big stuff, right?
Roughly two weeks ago, the long-time Marlies bench boss finally got the call-up fans had been waiting for, jumping into the NHL to take over a little team called the Toronto Maple Leafs and leaving his former employer without a coach.
Until now, that is.
Having gone about their business with a tandem of assistants, A.J. MacLean and Rob Davidson, since Keefe’s departure on November 20th, the Marlies opted to install a permanent fixture moving forward and officially named Greg Moore the seventh head coach in franchise history.
The news, which broke late Sunday night, came shortly after Hockey Night in Canada’s “Headlines” segment discussed the growing interest in the Marlies job during Saturday’s broadcast.
Moore now joins the Marlies after spending parts of the past two seasons with the USHL’s Chicago Steel, of which he was head coach. As one would expect, his ties to the Maple Leafs organization run relatively deep.
Not only did Toronto select one of Moore’s top players, Nick Abruzzese, in the fourth round of the draft this very summer, but both the Leafs and the Steel happen to receive private consultation from skills specialist, Darryl Belfry, too. If that weren’t enough, Moore also attended the Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach in June.
Seven months later, he’s a guest no more.
Moore’s climb through the numerous rungs of hockey’s ladder has been varied, his most recent stop in the USHL presenting the best glimpse at his coaching expertise.
Despite spending only one full season with the Steel in 2018-19, Moore leaves the program with a track record of success. The Maine-native coached Chicago to a 37-21-4 record through the USHL’s 62-game regular season before earning a birth in the league’s Clark Cup Final, with the Steel ultimately falling in a sweep to the Sioux Falls Stampede. In the 20 games this season prior to his departure, Moore guided the Steel to a 15-4-1 record.
Those who watch the USHL regularly seem to hold positive sentiments on Moore’s philosophy as a head coach, which seems like a good thing.
What I've noticed about Greg Moore's coaching style from this season:
Emphasis on puck movement & possession. Offense-oriented but defenseman are keyed into that too. Obviously excellent at developing young guys.
Personally, I think he fits into the Leafs system quite nicely.
— jacqueline taylor (@jxcquelineoh) December 2, 2019
The Maple Leafs, and, by extension, the Marlies seem to favour a system built primarily upon the traits Jacqueline Taylor’s tweet describes so eloquently. That much has been clear since Kyle Dubas took over the big club’s GM chair back in 2018.
Moore, then, seems to fit the bill. His resume checks nearly all of the necessary boxes for the position: strong developmental mind, possession-focused, able to reach young players on both a professional and personal level, etc.
Establishing strong organizational cohesion is quite important for the Maple Leafs these days, especially given the turmoil of the past 18 months. A philosophical disconnect between the Leafs and Marlies was all too apparent during the Mike Babcock-Sheldon Keefe coaching marriage (it’s not exactly a mystery whose fault that was) and the negative impacts seeped into the on-ice performance of the former. With Babcock gone, Dubas is looking for a collective buy-in. Moore seems to represent exactly that.
Moore is set to make his debut behind the Marlies’ bench on Wednesday night in Rochester.