COMING BACK to the American Hockey League is like coming home for Mike Stothers.
The 52-year-old Toronto native was introduced as the fourth head coach of the Manchester Monarchs at a press conference at Verizon Wireless Arena Wednesday.
Stothers played parts of 11 seasons in the AHL (mostly with Maine and Hershey), logging 671 AHL games.
“I spent the better part of my playing career in the American Hockey League and was fortunate to win a Calder Cup as a player and as a coach,” Stothers said. “I know how exciting it can be.”
A first-round draft pick of Philadelphia in 1980, Stothers played in 30 NHL games as well and has bounced around the coaching ranks as an assistant in the AHL with Philadelphia and Hershey and head coach in junior hockey with Owen Sound and the past three seasons with Moose Jaw. He also had stints as an assistant coach with the Flyers and Atlanta in the NHL.
“Part of why we have Mike here is we wanted NHL experience, not only playing but coaching,” said Monarchs director of hockey operations Hubie McDonough. “He has that and he has great ties to the (Los Angeles Kings) organization through (Kings vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel) Mike Futa.”
Stothers says he believes the balance between developing players for the NHL and winning at the AHL level are linked.
“I think it goes hand in hand. I think players develop in a winning environment and certainly you want to be competitive,” Stothers said. “Every organization’s dream should be to win a championship.”
Stothers said bringing the first Calder Cup to the Queen City is a goal.
“Certainly a Calder Cup here in Manchester would be very nice and something we’re striving for,” he said. “I’m not going to stand here and guarantee it in July, but it’s certainly a goal of ours.”
Stothers said he heard nothing but good things about Manchester as a hockey town and overall community. He and his wife, Judi, are currently looking for a place to live in the area.
Stothers has also been getting up to speed on the Monarchs players and the playing style preached in Los Angeles.
“It was a lengthy part of the interview process, (learning) the Kings’ philosophy and how they play the game and how they like to operate. I spent a week out there at development camp. I was on the ice with the players,” Stothers said. “Hubie’s been a great resource for me here as far as players and there’s film I can watch.”
Stothers said coaching teenagers at the junior level has been good for him and will help him in the AHL.
“Sometimes it’s good to step back into the tounger age bracket and get yourself reacquainted or more familiar with the younger guys and the younger way of thinking,” he said. “The game has evolved and I think you have to do so as a coach.”
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Berube inks deal: The Kings announced Wednesday that they have agreed to terms on a new two-year contract for restricted free agent goaltender Jean-Francois Berube.
The 23-year-old Berube is a Quebec native and turned in an excellent rookie season this past year after Martin Jones was called up to L.A. as the permanent backup to Jonathan Quick.
Berube played in 48 of his 53 career AHL games last season, posting a record of 28-17-2 with a 2.37 goals against average, .913 save percentage and three shutouts.
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Sunday News and Union Leader. His email is email@example.com.