After head coach Jared Bednar took the vacant job in Colorado and became the new coach of the Avalanche, the defending AHL Calder Cup champion Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters needed a new bench boss.
And they got a good one, tapping former three time Stanley Cup champion (Devils in 2000 and 2003 and Blackhawks in 2010), Selke Trophy winner (2001), and NCAA National Champion (University of Michigan, 1996) John Madden. Madden is getting his first shot as a head coach at any level after serving three years as an assistant with the Florida Panthers.
Originally hired as a pro scout by the Panthers in September of 2013, after finishing his career with the team he was named an assistant coach that November. He had retired from a career that spanned 1998 to 2012 with the Devils, Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and Panthers. He finished his career with 165 goals, 183 assists for 348 points and 219 penalty minutes. In 898 NHL games, he was an amazing +20 plus/minus. He was part of the Panthers team in 2012 that won the Southeast Division and then were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Devils in seven games.
In his time as an assistant coach, the Panthers improved a little bit season by season and eventually finished last year with a 47-26-9 record and 103 points, winning the Atlantic Division. They were eventually defeated in the opening round of the playoffs by the Islanders.
The Monsters, AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, are coming off last season’s Calder Cup win, beating the Hershey Bears to bring Cleveland a championship a few weeks before the Cleveland Cavaliers won their historic NBA title.
Madden, a Toronto native, was a great two-way forward during his time in the NHL. He should be a good influence on a young team, instilling in them the need for defense as they develop and head into the NHL with the Blue Jackets.
Still affectionately known to Devils fans as “Mad Dog,” Madden was a key part of the Devils’ success in the early 2000’s. Now, the Columbus organization has a fine coach in the form of Madden in their system, eager and hungry to show that he can be a head coach. Good luck to John Madden and the Cleveland Monsters heading into the 2016-17 AHL season and congratulations to the Columbus Blue Jackets for nailing down a good coaching prospect for their organization.