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Tag: Mike Kelly

Power Play Scoring Must Pick Up From Career Numbers

Power-Play
/ˈpou(ə)r plā/
noun

A situation in hockey where one team has a greater number of players on the ice because the opposing team has a player or players are in the penalty box Sin Bin, giving the team a scoring advantage.

It’s no secret, NHL teams that have success on the power play, usually end up in the playoffs. Eight of the top ten most efficient PP units made the postseason. Tampa was one of the teams to miss the playoffs, but only by one point. For example, take last season’s Stanley Cup champion. They were 3rd in PP% at 23.1% and 2nd in PP goals with 60.

With playoff expectations low in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights coaching staff will have all season to find the right PP combinations. It could be frustrating for Gerard Gallant but that’s why he has Assistant Coach Mike Kelly. We’ll get to him later…

Offensively, PP goals can be a way to neutralize an opponent. Inferior teams can compete further in a game when they win the penalty battle. Let’s get serious, this is the NHL, stars get the calls, and unfortunately, Vegas’ only star is between the pipes, which likely means the Golden Knights will be down a man more often than they’re up one. But, if they can make the most of their PP opportunities, it could help pick up a few wins or overtime losses.

2017 Top NHL PP Percentage:

Sabres 24.5% Missed playoffs
Maple Leafs 23.8% First round exit
Penguins 23.1% Cup Champions
Capitals 23.1% Second round exit
Oilers 22.9% Second round exit
Lightning 22.8% Missed playoffs
Bruins 21.7% First round exit
Blues 21.3% Second round exit
Wild 21.0% First round exit
Rangers 20.3% Second round exit

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Golden Knights Hire Two Assistant Coaches

Before George McPhee fills up the bench with players at the Expansion Draft, Gerard Gallant has begun bringing on a few of the people who will stand behind the bench and coach the Golden Knights.

First, the obvious one, Mike Kelly. Kelly who was an assistant with Gallant in Florida, as well as in Saint John in the QMJHL, has been hired to the same position with the Golden Knights. Kelly had been Gallant’s top assistant the three seasons Gerard was with the Panthers and was always expected to have a place in Vegas once Gallant was hired.

I am very excited to be working with Mike again. We enjoyed success in both Florida and Saint John and I am eager to bring that success to the Golden Knights. Mike is a great guy with a wealth of hockey knowledge and I couldn’t be happier with the decision to bring him to Las Vegas. -Gerard Gallant, Head Coach in Press Release

The next assistant hung up his skates to take a shot at coaching. It’s Ryan Craig, who was most recently the captain of the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. Craig’s playing career spanned 14 years in the NHL and AHL. Prior to going pro, Craig played for the Brandon Wheat Kings for six seasons from 1997-2003. Vegas Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon drafted Craig in Brandon.

Craig played 71 games this season with the Monsters before deciding to take on the assistant coaching job in Vegas.

He is well-respected in the hockey community and has been a tremendous leader throughout his playing career, both on and off the ice. I am confident that the leadership characteristics he exuded as a player will translate well behind the bench in his new role as an assistant coach. -Gallant in Press Release

Most NHL teams have either two or three assistant coaches in addition to their head coach and goalie coach, so it’s possible one more assistant is added in the coming days. The Golden Knights goalie coach, Dave Prior, was hired eight months before Gallant.

McPhee Ready To Hire Assistants When Gallant Returns At End Of the Month

The next step in the hockey operations process is filling out the Golden Knights coaching staff. Most NHL teams have between three and five coaches in addition to their head coach. The Golden Knights currently have Gerard Gallant as the boss, prior to his signing, the team added Dave Prior as a goalie coach and Wil Nichol as the Director of Player Development.

Now it’s time for Gallant to add a few assistants of his own, and according to George McPhee it won’t be long before he does so.

He’s over at the World Championships with Team Canada at the moment, look forward seeing him at the end of the month and filling out his staff. –George McPhee in interview with TSN 690

The leading candidate for a position is Mike Kelly, Gallant’s former top assistant with both the Florida Panthers and Saint John Sea Dogs.

Dave Barr and Scott Allen were also assistants with the Panthers when Gallant was released. Barr was retained to run the power play for interim head coach Tom Rowe, but was fired when Rowe was demoted in April. Both are possibilities to resurface with the Golden Knights.

Mike Kitchen (Blackhawks), Newell Brown (Coyotes), Doug Lidster (Canucks), Perry Pearn (Canucks), and James Patrick (Stars) are among some of the assistants that were fired from their positions at the conclusion of the season.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Golden Knights coaching staff wasn’t completely filled until after the Expansion Draft, but McPhee sounds like he’s ready to start bringing coaches on board as soon as Gallant returns from Germany/France and the IIHF Worlds.

Mike Kitchen, VGK Assistant Extraordinaire?

As it stands right now the Vegas Golden Knights are a fully functioning NHL franchise, if you just ignore their roster of one. Vegas is now preparing for the 2017-18 season just like the 22 other teams no longer vying for the Cup. With the head coach Gerard Gallant comfortably in the Zamboni seat, it’s time to add his staff of assistants. The organization will want to add two or three coaches to help direct special teams. Mike Kelly (the other guy in the taxi pictures), Gallant’s assistant in Florida and with the Saint John Sea Dogs, is the leading candidate to become one of those assistants, but there are still other seats to be filled.

In the NHL the assistant coach should be a good source of communication for the head coach and players. A hockey scout explained an assistant coach as the Tom Hagen of the team. The consigliere should always protect the head of the family and be trusted by the soldiers. Consider Gallant as the team Godfather and the soldiers as the players. The assistant coach will communicate the message. The Golden Knights will bring in a coach that should lead by example, communicate clearly and continuously work to improve the club. If that doesn’t describe Hagen, I don’t know what does. He politely told Tessio he couldn’t ‘get him off the hook’ and then sent him off to be killed. Okay, back to assistant coaching, here’s one potential individual who is currently in the sports pages.

Former St. Louis Blues head coach and assistant to Joel Quenneville, Mike Kitchen, was let go yesterday in somewhat of a surprising move.

Sources said Bowman likely fired Kitchen to reassert authority over personnel and send everyone, including Quenneville, a message going into next season. Bowman’s decision to fire Kitchen was also likely a move in self-preservation to pacify a demand for change coming. –Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune

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Gerrard Gallant Named First Coach In Vegas Golden Knights History

Despite the fact that there won’t be an official “knighting” ceremony, former Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant is now Sir Gallant, the first head coach in Vegas Golden Knights history.

There is a great deal of excitement in the hockey community regarding what is happening with the Golden Knights and I am glad to now be a part of the team. We have a state-of-the-art practice facility being constructed, a world class home arena and from what I’ve heard, a very passionate and engaged fan base. I look forward to seeing that enthusiasm first hand and will work with George and the rest of the hockey operations staff to ice a team that Golden Knights fans will be proud to support. -Gallant in Golden Knights Press Release

Gallant was fired just 22 games into the season with the Florida Panthers with the reason cited as “philosophical differences.” Most believed it was due to disagreements over the use of analytics in deciding ice time and playing style, but Gallant denied that a few weeks after being let go.

Prior to his gig with the Panthers, Gallant spent four years as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That was widely considered an unsuccessful tenure, which led Gerard to take a job QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Gallant led the Sea Dogs to back to back titles and went on to win the Memorial Cup as well in 2011. This renaissance thrust Gallant back on to the scene.

One of the key players on his Memorial Cup winning team was a big reason why Gallant found himself standing behind an NHL bench once again. The Panthers selected Jonathan Huberdeau with the 3rd overall pick in 2011. Gallant was instrumental in getting Huberdeau that far, and then was able to reunite with him in the NHL in 2014.

The saga surrounding Gallant’s release in Florida made international headlines, as did these two pictures (1 and 2). Following a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, Gallant was fired and left to take a taxi with assistant coach Mike Kelly (remember that name) who was released as well. But the oddity doesn’t end there. Normally when coaches are fired following an NHL game, it’s done immediately following the game and the media never gets a chance to speak to the coach. Well that was not the case with Gallant. However, no local media traveled from Miami to this particular game in North Carolina, so the Panthers allowed Gallant to speak to a few AP writers before making him aware of his release. The whole story is broken down in this excellent article from CaneCountry.com. It says a lot about the state of the Florida Panthers organization, but also about what kind of person the Golden Knights just hired.

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