The Orlando Solar Bears' new head coach Anthony Noreen doesn't want to be in the ECHL for too long, and he doesn't want his players to want that, either.
One of the changes the current Toronto Maple Leafs' front office régime has brought about is a shift in developmental philosophy that will see the Solar Bears being used much more frequently as a place to develop prospects with NHL potential.
With the entire Leafs' organization rebuilding and bringing in many young players, not only will it be difficult to crack the Leafs' roster, it's going to be a battle to make that of their AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies. In fact, Noreen expects that there will be a lot of movement of players between the AHL and ECHL this season, and he doesn't want players to see that as a demotion or as a punishment. "Work on what you've got to work on, get better, and come back a better player," he says.
It is an exciting time to be a Solar Bear coach, since the Leafs will undoubtedly send at least one goalie to the ECHL, and will also send quite a few other players to get some time where they can play bigger minutes and prove that they belong at the next level.
Noreen expressed that he does not want 30-something year-old players who are content to be in the ECHL. He wants players who are burning to get to the next level, and he understands very well what that drive and passion is like, because he shares it.
When asked if he has his own sights set on making it to the big show as a coach in the NHL, he doesn't hesitate. "Oh yeah, definitely, that's the goal." Only 32 years old himself, and no rookie coach (he has coached for several years in the USHL), Noreen finds he can relate to players best when they are working towards making the next level of team. he began coaching at 27, and has been moving up the ranks ever since.
This weekend he is in London, Ontario for a chance to chat with Sheldon Keefe so that they can talk about how and when they will bring players up and down from the AHL to the ECHL, but there will also be communication with the Leafs.
Which players wind up in Orlando remains to be seen, but you can bank on PPP's own Achariya to bring you all the latest developments on that front so stay tuned.