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John Gruden is the new Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies

Jon Steitzer
9 months ago
The Maple Leafs announced the hiring of their new AHL coach this morning.
Their press release:
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that John Gruden has been hired as Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies. Gruden becomes the eighth head coach in the club’s history.
“We’re very pleased to name John as the Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies,” said Ryan Hardy, Maple Leafs Assistant General Manager, Minor League Operations. “John has supported the development and performance of his players throughout his coaching career while delivering team success at every level. His resume from the U.S. National Team Development Program to the OHL and eventually the NHL has armed him with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be invaluable to both players and staff.”
Gruden, 53, joins the Marlies after serving as assistant coach this past season with the Boston Bruins and previously held the same position from 2018-22 with the New York Islanders. As head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL), he led the club to the 2018 OHL Championship and compiled a record of 76-45-8-7 through two seasons (2016-18). Gruden also served as head coach for the Flint Firebirds (OHL) during the 2015-16 season.
He began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the US NTDP Juniors (USHL) from 2011-15, helping lead Team USA to gold medals at both the 2012 and 2014 U18 World Championships.
The Virginia, Minnesota native appeared in 92 NHL games and 175 AHL games after being selected in the eighth round (168th overall) of the 1990 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins. Prior to his professional career, Gruden recorded 104 points (40 goals, 64 assists) in 155 games at Ferris State University and was named NCAA (CCHA) Best Offensive Defenseman and to the NCAA (CCHA) First All-Star Team and NCAA (West) First All-American Team in 1993-94.
So there isn’t anything wrong with going with someone off the bench of a team that has set the record for regular season wins and serving under the Jack Adams trophy winner. Prior to that Gruden was working with Barry Trotz on Long Island, and winning the OHL championship with the Hamilton Bulldogs before that. Throw in his experience with the US National Team, he has experience working with a number of Leafs players, including one Auston Matthews.
This looks to be a pretty good hire for the Marlies and potentially one for the Leafs in the long run as well.
Gruden has experience as the head coach at the junior level, but in the pro ranks, Gruden has been an NHL Assistant Coach for the entirety of his time. That time has gone well, but it isn’t out of the ordinary for coaches to need some bench boss experience before stepping into the Head Coach role at the NHL level. Whether it is intentionally for the Leafs or if this is Gruden getting in his reps so he can potentially go elsewhere, it’s a hiring that definitely alludes to NHL Head Coach aspirations and the Leafs aren’t wrong to bring in someone that in some ways will be pushing Keefe.
Gruden was responsible for the defensive unit in Boston and with Topi Niemela as Toronto’s key prospect on the Marlies this season, this move should hopefully benefit him as well.
The next step for Gruden and Hardy will be to round out the Marlies coaching staff. The Leafs still have to replace Spencer Carbery’s assistant coach spot on the Maple Leafs.

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