Geoff Ward will be plying his trade in new environs next season. The veteran coach, who spent the last three seasons with John Hynes behind the Devils’ bench, will be in Calgary next year. The Flames announced today that Ward has joined new Calgary coach Bill Peters’ staff.
The news was first broken by SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman.
As in New Jersey, Ward will run the Flames’ power play. Calgary’s power play was ranked 28th (17.5% efficiency according to George Johnson of calgaryflames.com) while the Devils were tenth at 20.8%.
Ward will join fellow new hire, Ryan Huska – who was promoted within the organization from the Stockton Heat of the AHL – on Peters’ staff.
Ward coached seven years in Boston under Claude Julien and won a Stanley Cup there in 2011, as well as an Eastern Conference championship in 2013. According to Johnson he then went to Germany, coaching in the DEL where he won a championship with Mannheim. He then joined the Devils back in the NHL.
Some of the quotes that Johnson got from Peters regarding Ward are that he is “(r)eal excited about both these hires. High-end coaches. Geoff’s got 10 years experience in the league. He won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011 on a real good coaching staff. Just his reputation around the league is strong. Very good with the powerplay. His eye for in-game corrections but also post-game on video with things your team needs to improve on, he’s excellent.”
Peters told Johnson that Ward is a “(c)areer coach, excelled on multiple levels and represented Germany internationally, done a good job there.” He went on, “(r)eal good relationship with players. Real good conduit between the coaching staff and the dressing room, in my opinion.” Johnson also quoted him as saying that he was “very innovative” and “creative in his work.”
Peters then confirmed to Johnson that Ward will be running the power play unit. He said: “(r)eally excited when I met with Geoff and we went over our (PP) personnel and what he’s going to be able to to with the group.” He then told Johnson “(s)o he’s gonna run it but I’m going to have some input, as well.”
Some of that personnel includes Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk. Not bad there.
The next question becomes, where do the Devils go from here? Do they promote someone like Rick Kowalsky from Binghamton and give him a chance at the NHL-level, or do they go outside of the organization?
The Devils’ power play has been no slouch, as evidenced by the 20.8% efficiency rate that George Johnson referenced. With guys like Taylor Hall and Will Butcher able to strike with the man advantage, the Devils will need someone to fill Ward’s shoes. Hopefully, they can do just that.