There is one less job opening on the coaching staff for the Soo Greyhounds.
The vacant assistant coach position has been filled as the team announced the hiring of Ryan Ward on Wednesday.
Ward takes over the position left vacant when the Greyhounds decided not to bring back Donald MacLean after one season in the position.
Joining a staff that included second-year Head Coach Drew Bannister and Associate Coach Joe Cirella, Ward said he’s excited to join this organization.
“It seems like for the past few years, everyone you cross paths with has been a part of the Greyhounds so being familiar in that regard with the Soo, it’s special to know how they’ve built this program over the past several years and I feel really honoured to be a part of that,” Ward said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Ward joins the Greyhounds after serving two seasons as a video coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
“What he’s going to bring is a high energy and he’s worked with some great coaches over the last few years with (Mike) Babcock and Gord Dineen (in 2014-15 with the Marlies),” said Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Raftis. “He’s really an outside-the-box thinker. He’s someone who is going to help us out a lot in terms of how we like to play the game.”
Ward said he was “fortunate” to be able to work with the likes of Babcock, Dineen and former Greyhounds Coach Sheldon Keefe in Toronto as well as Kyle Dubas.
“I’ve worked with so many different personalities that all view the game differently and I’m a huge believer that one plus one equals three,” Ward said. “You take pieces of everything you’ve learned from guys and you apply it to your own philosophy on how you believe the game is going. Just overall, I’m fortunate to have been able to sit in the same room as those personalities.”
“Working with Sheldon this year, the way he thinks the game and the way he sees the game is completely different than a lot of people,” Ward said. “From a creative standpoint, he’s probably the best I’ve seen. Babs (Babcock) is super with structure, detail and organization and Gord is such a great coach and people person. Being able to sit and take pieces from all of that, I feel fortunate.”
A graduate of Bowling Green State University in 2009, Ward’s experience also included just under four seasons as a video coordinator with the New York Islanders.
Raftis called Ward’s video background an asset for the team.
“With today’s game, players are obsessed with video and they crave it and they crave the constructive criticism,” Raftis said. “Him having that element is very intriguing because he’s very good with breaking down video with guys. When you get trained to watch that much video, you get trained a certain way and you get to know the habits. He can do things very quickly on that side of it and he can relate to the players and find those little nuances.”
Prior to joining Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, Ward spent one season with the University of Rhode Island as an assistant coach.