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Leafs to hire Manny Malhotra as Assistant Coach

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Kyle Dubas seems to have found his choice to add to Toronto’s bench.

Arizona Coyotes v Vancouver Canucks

As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be hiring former NHLer and Canucks assistant Manny Malhotra as an assistant coach.

Malhotra, 40, had a long and respected career as a defensive forward who specialized in faceoffs and defensive zone starts. After hanging up his skates in 2016, he joined the Vancouver Canucks as a development coach in September of that year. He was promoted to assistant coach with Vancouver in June 2017, in which position he has remained until now. While his title is the same as in Vancouver, in practical terms this is a step up the ranks:

Malhotra was a trailblazer as one of the first coaches of South Asian descent in the NHL, and has been considered a candidate to eventually be the first head coach of that background. This article speaks to his professionalism and his positive impact on young players.

Malhotra replaces Paul McFarland on the Leafs’ bench, who returned to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. We might expect Manny to inherit some of McFarland’s responsibility for the Leafs’ power play, although we don’t know how that responsibility will be divided next season, and Manny was most renowned for his play at on the defensive side. If some of the Leafs’ forwards develop a defensive conscience to match Malhotra’s as a player, that would be a welcome development.

The new AC joins head coach Sheldon Keefe and holdover assistant Dave Hakstol. While many Leaf fans were hoping for Bruce Boudreau to fill the hole on the Leafs’ bench, Malhotra has a lot to admire both personally and professionally, and hopefully can help the team to renewed success.

Update: Official news release.

“I’m very grateful to the Canucks organization for the opportunity given to me to start my coaching career. It was truly a great experience to learn from Travis Green and the rest of his staff,” said Malhotra. “I’m now very excited for this opportunity with the Leafs moving forward - to be working with Sheldon, his staff and this young, talented team.”

“The work ethic, character, intelligence and attention to detail that made Manny the ultimate teammate when he played are all assets that have translated to his coaching. That, combined with his charisma and communication skills, make us really excited to have him join the organization,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. “On behalf of the Leafs, I’d like to thank Travis Green, Jim Benning and the Canucks organization for the opportunity to speak with Manny.”