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Greg Cronin Named Ducks Head Coach
By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks announced they hired Greg Cronin as the team’s 11th head coach in franchise history earlier today.
Cronin has 36 years of experience which includes positions in Colby, Maine, Bridgeport, Colorado, New York, and Toronto. For the last five years he has been the head coach of the Colorado Eagles, which is the AHL affiliate for the Colorado Avalanche, posting a 164-104-30 record. He made the playoffs in 4 of the 5 seasons in Colorado and had a .584% winning percentage overall in the AHL.
The decision was finalized yesterday, but Cronin wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone about it he said, “I wasn’t allowed to, Pat (Verbeek) locked it down. Guys were texting me, ‘Hey, I hear you’re going here.” I just ghosted them.” The official announcement then came this morning from the Anaheim Ducks.
Cronin has several connections to others associated with the Ducks. He was an assistant coach at the University of Maine when Paul Kariya won the Hobey Baker award. Cronin was the director of player development for the New York Islanders from 2002 to 2005. The New York goaltending coach for the last two seasons back then was Sudarshan Maharaj, who will remain with the Ducks this season according to the team. Cronin also worked with Randy Carlyle in Toronto as an assistant coach from 2012 to 2014.
The Ducks held a press conference today, which Cronin emphasized building relationships with the players, who he hadn’t met with yet. “There’s going to be some bumps in the road. There’s going to be a few times when they’re going to want to run me over in the parking lot and I’m willing to do that, as far as create that, as long as we know that we’re working together to create a vision and then execute it. The execution is the hard part. You can talk about it all you want, but doing it is hard.”
The book on Cronin appears to be that he is a combination of old school and new school. According to Patrick Williams, “You’re getting one of the most intense coaches you can imagine. But also one of the most caring and player focused. Take Alex Galchenyuk. Cronin did great work this season helping him to rebuild his entire defensive game. Just one example.”
EJ Hradek shared his thoughts on the hiring, “Greg Cronin has been one of those guys who’s done the work for a long time—I think this is an absolutely great fit.”
Verbeek had this to say, “What impressed me the most, and what separated Greg from the rest (of the candidates), were the intricate details he could show in a step-by-step process of the fundamentals. As a former player, I would crave that…The teaching part put him over the top.” He also said, “What I really like about Greg is he has old school principles, but he had new school methods of teaching. I think it’s great combination.”
Part of the newer school mentality is using analytics. Cronin has an understanding of advanced metrics and how to use them to maximize the game in each of the players. He wants the team to have a style of play where it will difficult for opponents to play against them. Verbeek has discussed this philosophy before and mentioned the need to focus on puck possession. He said the focus isn’t necessarily going to solely be on defense as there is a need to play fast and get the puck down the ice to create offensive chances.
Cronin and Verbeek appear to be on the same page in terms of how to develop players, the style of play, emphasis of analytics, and overall philosophy of the game. Cronin has coached the minors and in the NHL as an assistant coach for over five decades. He has had success in those roles, but he hasn’t been a NHL head coach yet. Can he have success as an NHL coach? Time will tell, but he is going to hit the ice running. “I’m telling guys out of the gate, there is going to be a standard here and an identity to the way we play. Change starts where your feet are, and we’ll work on that right out of training camp.”
To hear the full press conference and interviews from Cronin and Verbeek, visit below.
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June 5th, 2023