Searching for a coach…again…
For the third consecutive off-season, the Norfolk Admirals will be looking for a new coach. Between the AHL and ECHL, the team will now be on its fourth head coach in four years. As reported yesterday, former Admirals head coach Eric Veilleux left Norfolk to take a contract with the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL. Veilleux had considerable success in the Q with Shawinigan and Baie-Comeau before taking an assistant coaching job with AHL Norfolk in 2014.
Veilleux was met with a number of challenges in his first year as head coach of the Admirals. The team never really had a complete lineup until the end of the year, and was frequently beset by injuries. A tough early start to the season could not be overcome by a promising 2016. When Nic Riopel returned from injury and claimed the starting job, the Admirals started to play a good deal better. Perhaps the biggest criticism is Veilleux’s teams were overwhelmingly one-zone teams who did not have the greatest defensive acumen. Part of this is personnel, another part of it might have been coaching. Ben Boudreau, who was in charge of the defense, remains with the team.
It’s unclear as to why Veilleux decided to take the Victoriaville job. There are many plausible reasons, of course. Perhaps the most striking oddity comes from a late season transaction. Veilleux claimed Maxime St. Cyr from Florida, ostensibly for next year. St. Cyr is technically on the Admirals roster, but it’s unclear what’s in his future.
Norfolk (and Edmonton) now begin the process of finding another new coach for the Admirals. The past few coaches were simply hanging around: Veilleux’s previously mentioned assistantship under Jarod Skalde, who received the head coaching job after an assistantship under Trent Yawney, who was picked when the Anaheim affiliate was still in Syracuse, but is at this point a Scope institution. The choice in this case would be…Ben Boudreau?
I’m not sure Boudreau would or should be the choice this year. The coaching search is already underway, and there might be a number of names the team is considering. Perhaps they’ve given a look to South Carolina assistant Ryan Warfsofsky, perhaps they’ve considered someone from the USHL, who knows. If they wanted to continue on a theme, they should consider current San Diego AHL assistant Marty Wilford. Admirals Hall of Famer, coached here in the past few seasons, probably would not do any worse than last year’s team.
I am not sure who the Admirals will pick, but they need to so very soon. While the ECHL is currently in the conference championships, Protected Lists are due in about two weeks. While it’s up to management, you would want a head coach’s input on those. Veilleux wasn’t named until July 21 of last year, but time is of the essence.