Refreshing your memory, Aaron Sims had a great blog post about the coaching vacancies in the division. Here is a cherry-picked quote from that post.
Some names that you’ll hear for any (or all) of these jobs: Ian Herbers, Paul Jerrard, Troy Ward, Brad Berry, Todd Richards, Brad Lauer, Cory Clouston and others.
Herbie, we know. Brad Lauer we remember. Todd Richards is recently employed. So let’s take a look at some of those other coaches and learn about their stories. Today, we’ll get to know Troy Ward.
1. If you like your coaches to have a ton of NHL playing experience, you won’t find that with Ward. Not much of a playing career….But he’s been coaching longer than Gabriel Bourque has been alive. He has coached at the college, AHL, NHL, and ECHL level. He is also the driving force behind the hockey camp known as Hockey & Sons, where you and your blue chip prospect can both go to skills camp together. (It’s actually looks pretty awesome…check out the camp video if you click over to that site.)
2. Troy has ties to Wisconsin. He was an assistant coach for the Badgers under Mike Eaves for three seasons. He coached players like Robbie Earl, Joe Pavelski, Jake Dowell, Adam Burish, and Rene Bourque. But his tenure at Madison ended in a peculiar fashion, as he was fired by Eaves in the summer of 2005. The two went way back long before the Badgers, and it sounds like there were some hurt feelings when it all went down.
Some quotes from Eaves on the decision:
“In my mind, I’m relieving (Ward) of his duties and asking him to go and find where his passion is. It’s a reflection of where (Ward) is in his life because he’s in between. He’s in between trying to figure out if he wants to be a businessman, if he wants to be a head coach. Where is the best place he can reach his maximum?
“Every year, in the summertime, alumni hear about Troy looking for different jobs and say, Gee, what’s going on?’ And then the players hear about it and there’s always questions. Every summer we were looking at different options. This is now time for him to figure out what he wants to do.
“Hopefully in two or three years — whatever time period you want to take — he’ll be able to say, Thanks, I needed that at that time. I didn’t want it, but I needed it,’ “
It’s a weird stance….Eaves walks the line between ‘you need to do this for yourself’ and ‘I’m tired of dealing with your popularity every summer’. Ward stands by the fact that he never would have done (and never did) anything to hurt the program while he was employed there, and he felt he was blindsided. Nevertheless, he landed on his feet.
Since his exodus, Ward has assisted with Milwaukee Admirals radio broadcasts (another local connection) was a head coach in the ECHL, an assistant coach and assistant GM with the Houston Aeros, and an assistant coach with the Abbotsford Heat last season.
And remember when Tony Hrkac came out of retirement to play the stretch drive with the Aeros? Troy Ward made that call.
3. Versatility. He really has worked in every aspect of the industry. Whether it’s the business side, roster management side, media relations side, or on-ice-product side, Ward has worn many different hats over his career.
4. Everyone loves him. Ok, that may be overstating things a bit, but I was able to find some ringing endorsements from people who had previously worked with him.
Aaron Sims speaks highly of Ward, having worked with him in the radio booth.
“Personally, I love the guy. He’s been waiting for a head job forever. He’s very easy to talk to and so honest about everything. He really is like Lane (Lambert) in so many ways.
“Troy was awesome on broadcasts. He was able to communicate what and why things happened in a small amount of time. He explained everything great and was precise and concise.”
Ward spent three years with the Aeros organization, so I reached out to a couple of the folks from The Third Intermission blog, for their memories of Ward.
First, Andrew Ferraro, who also writes for the Chron…
“Troy helped many players to career years, many of them complimenting the coaching staff with improving their attention to detail and responsibility in the role they should have. Corey Locke, Mitch Love, Max Noreau, Joel Ward, Cal Clutterbuck and Erik Reitz are all guys that would be very complimentary of Ward.”
That’s 525 games of NHL experience among that group. And then there’s Locke, who led the AHL in points this year, before being a Calder Cup champion.
Here’s our friend Ms. Conduct…
“Love love LOVE that man. Extremely nice. Great teacher. Wonderful with the media. Even keeled. I felt like he was the good cop/positive guy a lot of times in relation to (Coach Kevin) Constantine’s bad cop/taskmaster. But he seems quite bright, a good people person, so I don’t see that nice guy thing getting in the way of getting what he wants out of the guys. I would wager he’s more of what people would call a ‘player’s coach’ and that seems to be the kind of guy players respond to more these days.”
The guy has been working in the AHL for the last four years, so there isn’t really an adjustment that needs to be made there. He brings so much experience with him to the table, and I think he would make an AHL team very happy, should they elect to make him their head coach this year.