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Newfoundland Growlers forced to make coaching change

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Ryane Clowe to step down as head coach.

Colorado Avalanche v New Jersey Devils

Today, Kyle Dubas announced that Ryane Clowe is stepping down permanently as head coach of the Newfoundland Growlers.

“We were honoured to have Ryane serve as the Growlers first Head Coach in franchise history but ultimately Ryane’s health is a priority, to not only him, but the entire organization” said Dean MacDonald. “We have confidence that the strong foundation and winning culture established by Ryane and John this season will continue under the leadership of John Snowden.”

Ryane Clowe will remain within the Leafs organization in a role that has yet to be determined.

Clowe, 36, spent two years in the New Jersey Devils organization as an assistant coach at the NHL level before he took on his first head coaching job this summer at the helm of the newest ECHL franchise and Toronto Maple Leafs affiliate in St. John’s.

Just a few weeks ago, Clowe took a break from coaching to try to resolve the issues he was having with what was believed to be concussion-related symptoms:

Prior to his official retirement in September 2015, Clowe missed virtually the entire 2014-15 NHL season with a concussion, at least the fourth of his 10-year NHL career.

And they all came within a two- or three-year period.

Every bit of medical advice told him he was risking his chances at a healthy future — that it was likely the Fermeuse native would suffer another concussion if he continued in the NHL.

Things seemed hopeful when Clowe returned to the bench recently, but obviously that hope was misplaced.

John Snowden, the Growlers assistant who took over during Clowe’s leave, will assume the permanent duties of head coach for the rest of this season.

Clowe and Snowden have done an excellent job of leading the expansion franchise to third place in the ECHL after 40 games played. They have a record of 27-11-2-0 and a points percentage of .700.

Meanwhile the NHL is in the process of settling a class-action lawsuit by former players over concussions suffered while playing.

The settlement is significantly less than the billion-dollar agreement reached between the NFL and its former players on the same issue of head injuries. Each player who opts in would receive $22,000 and could be eligible for up to $75,000 in medical treatment.

“When you have a defendant who has spent millions of dollars litigating a case for four years to prove that nothing is wrong with getting your brain bashed in, you can only get so far,” [Stuart Davidson, attorney for the players] told The Associated Press. “I think it’s important for players who have an opportunity to settle their case with the NHL now to understand that before they get anything through a trial against the NHL it’s going to cost millions of dollars in experts to get there, and that’s going to have to be paid for before they see a penny from any recovery, assuming they win.”