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Ducks Hire Geoff Ward & Mike Stothers
By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks have hired former Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward according to Darren Dreger of TSN sports. The Ducks confirmed hiring Ward and announced they also hired Mike Stothers as an assistant coach.
Ward had a 35-26-5 record during two seasons with the Flames. He was fired during the 2020-21 season, when the Flames were 11-11-2. Darryl Sutter, who had been helping Anaheim in an advisor role, was hired by Calgary to replace Ward. Kirk Muller was another possible option for Anaheim, but he recently joined Sutter’s staff.
Ward was brought in to help improve the power play. In the 2019-20 season, the Flames power play was 21.2% efficient and ranked 12th in the league. In the 2018-19 season, the Flames power play was 19.2% efficient, ranking 18th in the league when Ward was the assistant coach.
Ward was an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils from 2015-16 to 2017-18. The power play efficiency in those three seasons was 21.1%(2017-18), 17.5%(2016-17), and 19.9%(2015-16).
Some of Ward’s power play strategy involves using four forwards and one defensemen in his unit configurations. He is also in favor of the players being on their strong sides during the man advantage. He likes to get creative and use a variety of zone entries instead of just relying on dumping the puck in the zone.
Lastly, he usually deploys the 1-3-1 configuration with two forwards in the slot setting screens and trying to create chaos in front of the net. The other two forwards are positioned on each wing to shoot or make passes to a player in a better scoring position.
Ward may not employ the exact same strategy as he has previously, but at this point anything is better than Anaheim’s current power play, which was the worst in the league for the last two seasons(14.7% and 8.9%).
Mike Stothers Also Joins The Coaching Staff
Stothers won the gold medal with Team Canada as an Assistant Coach at the 2021 U-18 World Championship. The last six seasons he was the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate in Ontario (2015-20) and Manchester (2014-15).
He coached the Monarchs to a Calder Cup Championship in 2015 and was named the AHL Coach of the Year. As a coach with the Reign and Monarchs, he had a record of 220-137-48 and made four playoff appearances.
He is known for holding his players accountable according to forward Matt Luff, who said “He‘s hard on you, but at the end of the day he really cares about his players. That’s what rubs off.” Stothers is known for having a straight forward approach and was key in developing the Kings players at the minor league level. Maybe his approach can help bring the best out of the young Anaheim players.
Recent addition Jeff Solomon, likely had some influence in bringing in Stothers having worked with him for several years within the LA organization.
General Manager Bob Murray stated he wanted to bring in some coaches to help Head Coach Dallas Eakins and now he has done that. According to Greg Beacham of The Associated Press, Mark Morrison and Marty Wilford will not return to the Ducks coaching staff next season. They could still remain in the organization, but in other roles possibly with the AHL.
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June 15th, 2021