“Ducks-Gulls…Bad to Good”
A long hard winter, a stransge thing to say, when you live in Southern California, but it was awful.
Awful if you were a hockey fan, a player, a coach or a General Manager.
The Anaheim Ducks had the worst record in the NHL, went to the lottery, and will get a really good player with the second choice in the draft. They force fed all their rookies, went from a quick start in 1st place to a 23-win last place season.
It was worse for the San Diego Gulls, a 20-win season, bad injuries, struggling draft picks, and overwhelmed rookies trying to play in the AHL.
Better days are coming. The Ducks have 11-draft picks in their pocket and 30M in cap space in their checking account for free agency. A new era is about to begin when Pat Verbeek, their GM, hires a new coach.
The Gulls will get a fresh start with the hiring of European coach Matt McIlvane, who won 4-titles coaching in Germany for Salzberg-Red Bull…hired at age (33)…and won 94-games in his four year run. He also coached in the ECHL with the Orlando Solar Bears.
The Ducks have to not just restock their roster, but restock a battered Gulls roster.
Verbeek came to San Diego, and his new coach, all smiles had lots to say too in their introductory press conference.:
Lots of optimism, lots of hope. Better than last winter of dreariness.
His hiring is an extremely important job..big role
Alot of prospects will be in San Diego next two years
Our journey began with Matt 10-years ago
Intrigued how he communicated..coached..developed relationships
His overseas development process in Germany was important
He knows how to work with younger players and older players
We will send 10-players, age 21 or younger, in San Diego next year
Wants to build championship character
Last year was difficult but losing teaches you alot of lessons
New perspective because we have alot of good youg kids coming
There will still be difficult lessons to be learned by our young players
We need to surround our young players with good veterans leadership
Show up everyday and get better
We need one voice to lead Gulls after years of changes
Matt has a winning pedigree-he has achieved so much
Players cannot question Matt’s know-how and success
Extremely humbled to be coach of the Gulls
Hockey knows he Samueli family runs a first class organization
This is a top AHL franchises
My strength as coach is to create a vision and move group to the goal
We build connections with players
Clear vision-Ducks are on a journey to build a Stanley Cup team
We have a development plan-give them a winning culure
Very clear standards and expectations
The AHL is a true developmental plan
Success hockey is not possible wityhout a a team connected.
You build uncommon bonds in the locker room
Hockey is the ultimate team sport
Bonds-brotherhood-so important for a franchise
We will be relentless, suffocating team defense
Alot of young prospects with offense-will teach them defense
Not too many NHL teams that have as bright a future as the Ducks
Don Jackson-former NHL players-coaching legend in Europe-big influence
Tell players-been in your shoes-have gone thru all of it
We want to teach the Ducks style of hockey-be in your face
European style different than NHL
I coached 50-former NHL-AHL players..helps me be equipped as a staff
I know how to push the right button
Talked to Pat during the course of the year about coaching
This is a fun environment for our guys to play in
I will retain the assistant coaching staff from last year..all 3-return