Hearing the open spot on TOR's bench will be filled by Manny Malhotra, who is moving from the VAN staff.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 17, 2020
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:
Also good on the Canucks for letting Malhotra go and not standing in the way of a promotion, going from eye in the sky in Van to a bench position in Toronto.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 17, 2020
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.
Announcement expected later today by the Leafs. Solid hire. Toronto also talked to the likes of Rocky Thompson and Bruce Boudreau for the opening but went with Malhotra. (Thompson is joining Bob Boughner's staff in San Jose). https://t.co/wdO5708TT0— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 17, 2020
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.”