If Manny Malhotra wishes it, so it shall be. Just three days after a report that the recently retired Malhotra would like to get into coaching, a former team, the Vancouver Canucks, has made it happen. The team announced today that the veteran of 16 NHL seasons will put that experience to work in his new role as a development coach.
In this capacity, Malhotra will work with the coaching staff at home practices, focusing on specialized skill development, such as face-offs. He will also travel frequently, working on the same development skills with Canucks prospects. Malhotra, a multi-faceted player with strong hockey sense, is likely to develop himself; the higher ranks of coaching don’t seem like too far of a reach. Almost immediately after retiring, it was reported that he had reached out to Vancouver GM Jim Benning, and the team itself reported that Malhotra met with coach Willie Desjardins, who understood the situation, saying that the “only reason you get into coaching is because you can’t play anymore”.
Malhotra has been highly valued by the Canucks organization before. In 2010, the team signed the then-31-year-old to the most expensive deal of his career, a three-year, $7.5MM pact on the first day of free agency. He had a strong first season, with 30 points in 72 games to go along with his trademark two-way game, but his numbers fell off in 2011-12, and injuries limited him to just nine games in 2012-13. After taking one-year deals with the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens in each of the following two seasons with little success, Malhotra instead stepped into a leadership role with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters (now Cleveland) last season, and helped to propel the team to a Calder Cup championship. Prior to his time in Vancouver, Malhotra spent the prime of his career with the Monster’s parent club, the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 344 games over five seasons with the team, he accounted for 145 points and was a face of the franchise. Malhotra’s career started with the New York Rangers, before he was traded to the Dallas Stars, but it really didn’t take off until he got to the Blue Jackets. During his time in Columbus, San Jose and Vancouver, Malhotra became known as one of the best defensive centers in the game, and he will now bring that two-way expertise to his role as a development coach.