Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2020 Tim Hortons Coaches Open House offered by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Usually, these open house sessions are held at Scotiabank Arena and involve sessions that take place within the actual arena bowl on the lower level. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, MLSE opted to host this year’s sessions virtually. Leafs In-Game Host, Danielle Emanuele, hosted the event live from inside Scotiabank Arena.
The Toronto Maple Leafs organization’s goal is to grow the game of hockey by inspiring and bringing new and exciting opportunities to the community. They do this through various programs catered to children, parents, coaches, and fans; one being the Tim Hortons Toronto Maple Leafs Coaches Open House. They understand the importance of hockey and how it has and continues to shape people on and off the ice. They also understand the commitments made by coaches themselves. Coaches who have the ability to impact a child’s life forever. Coaches who help grow the game and are committed to their teams, the community, and Canada’s favorite sport.
So here we are again… onto Day 2!
A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE GTHL
Danielle sat down with Brian Kyla-Lassila, the Membership Services Manager of the GTHL. Having been with the GTHL for 12 seasons now, Brian’s main focus has been player and coach development at both the grassroots and high performance levels. He assisted in developing many administrative and operational roles such as administration, finance, and hockey operations. Brian has long been involved in the sport of hockey through playing in the GTHL as a kid, as a past GTHL student intern, and in operating outdoor hockey programs at the community level. Olympic Medalist and Head Coach of the U of T women’s hockey program, Vicky Sunohara also joined the panel. She was a member of Canada’s national women’s hockey program from 1989 to 2008 and became the head coach of the U of T’s women’s program in 2011-12 after serving two years as the Director of Women’s Hockey at The Hill Academy in Vaughan, ON.
A CHAT WITH HOCKEY CANADA
Director of Hockey Development with Hockey Canada, Corey McNabb joined Danielle in the second portion of the day. As the director of Hockey Development for Hockey Canada, Corey is responsible for all Hockey Canada NCCP Programs. He also oversees the Skills Development Program which focuses on development and video resources. Corey is a long-time term player in Hockey Canada’s Player Development Strategy. He’s worked closely with the U17/U18 Team and National Junior Team. He also has experience coaching at all levels of hockey from U9 to U18 AAA and U Sports.
The weekend concluded with the conversation most looked forward to hear. Emmanuele sat down with Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach, Sheldon Keefe. On November 20, 2019, Sheldon Keefe was named the 31st head coach in Maple Leafs history. He led the Leafs to a 27-15-3 record in his first season with the team. Prior to joining the Leafs, he served as the head coach of the Toronto Marlies (AHL) for five seasons. In 319 regular season games in the AHL, Keefe led the Marlies to a 199-89-22-9 record and won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s top team in the regular season twice – in 2015-16 and again in 2017-18. He also led the Marlies to a 38-21 record in four post-season appearances, including the franchise’s first Calder Cup Championship in 2018. Prior to joining the Marlies, Keefe was hired as the head coach of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds – again by Kyle Dubas where he wont Coach of the Year in 2014-15. He was also the GM and head coach of the CCHL’s Pembroke Lumber Kings, where he captured five straight league championships with the team between 2007-2011.
Of course the question was asked, did the Leafs have any other intentions of making additional changes to an already busy off-season. Keefe suggested although they felt they addressed all their needs, they were still on the lookout to improve the blue line – however not by splitting the core group up front.