The Sea Dogs have named former NHL forward and coach Greg Gilbert as their new Head Coach.
Gilbert, a former 3-time Stanley Cup champion as a player, has 20 years of Head Coaching experience, including 189 games coached in the NHL with the Calgary Flames. Gilbert began the 2000-2001 season with the Flames as an Assistant before taking over Head Coach duties.
The 58-yer-old has spent a total of nine seasons as Head Coach in the American Hockey League (AHL), four with St. Louis Blues affiliate Worcester IceCats (1996-2000), three with Toronto Maple Leafs affiliate Toronto Marlies (2006-2009), and two with Philadelphia Flyers affiliate Adirondack Phantoms (2009-2011). He received AHL Coach of the Year honours in 1997.
“I’m so happy and grateful for the opportunity that Trevor and Mr. McCain have given me,” Gilbert said. “My job is to get this team where everybody wants it to be, champions, not only in the QMJHL but the Memorial Cup. It’s a great opportunity and a big challenge, no question about it – I’m really looking forward to it.”
In junior hockey, Gilbert spent a total of eight seasons as Head Coach in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), three seasons with the Mississauga IceDogs (2003-2006) and five seasons with the Saginaw Spirit (2011-2016). He received OHL Coach of the Year honours in 2012. Following the 2015-2016 season with Saginaw, Gilbert took a four-season hiatus from coaching and joined TSN as an NHL analyst.
“This was a lengthy process and an important one,” said Sea Dogs President & General Manager, Trevor Georgie. “We cast a wide net and had many compelling candidates. Our ideal candidate needed to have NHL Head Coaching and Playing Experience, CHL Head Coaching experience, won as either a player or coach, and fit well with the team that we have in place. Greg fit all of our criteria. We expect our talented team to play hard, accountable, structured, and disciplined hockey. Winning is hard and Greg’s won three Stanley Cups. He will show our young men what they need to do and the sacrifices they need to make in order to win at the highest level.”
As a player, Gilbert played in 837 NHL Regular Season Games and 133 NHL Playoff Games over fifteen seasons. His playoff total ranks 101st all-time for NHL forwards. He won two Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders (1981-1982 and 1982-1983) and one Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers (1993-1994). Gilbert finished his NHL career with 157 goals, 261 assists, and 738 penalty minutes (regular season and playoffs total).
Gilbert credits both his Stanley Cup Champion Head Coaches, Al Arbour and Mike Keenan, for his passion for coaching and coaching style.
“You learn a bit from each coach, you learn how to push your players a little,” said Gilbert. “It’s not always a kick in the back side, it’s learning the players and treating them as individuals, who needs what – some need a pat on the back and some need a kick in the back side – it’s learning how to create that relationship with your players. Both [Al & Mike] were unbelievable at doing that and it’s one thing I learned from both those gentlemen.”
Gilbert is familiar with the Sea Dogs organization having worked with Sea Dogs Senior Advisor and St. Louis Blues pro scout Wayne Mundey with the St. Louis Blues, and having coached both Sea Dogs coaches Stefan Legein with the Mississauga IceDogs and Jeff Cowan with the Calgary Flames.
“It’s great for me, I know both players and both people,” said Gilbert. “The one thing that’s consistent with the two gentlemen I’m going to be working with is they’re work horses. Their daily routine was work harder and better themselves and that’s what we have to get across to our team in Saint John. It’s going to be a lot of work, there’s good pieces in place but as we all know it takes a little bit more to win championships. That’s our plan as the coaching staff is to push our players and hopefully win, not just the QMJHL but the Memorial Cup.”
Gilbert is the eighth head coach in franchise history and will take over head coaching duties from interim head coach, Jeff Cowan.
“Jeff is one of the most humble, passionate, and loyal people,” Georgie said. “He has so much valuable hockey knowledge and rich experiences to draw upon, and is a critical part of our Sea Dogs DNA. He did a great job in the second half of the season with additional responsibilities and we want to thank him for that.”
Fans will have the opportunity to hear from Gilbert this Monday on the team’s Facebook page when he will be featured as a guest on ‘Monday Night Mic’d’ at 7:30pm Atlantic on Facebook Live.