The New York Islanders have hired John Gruden—no, not that Jon Gruden—as an assistant coach, joining Barry Trotz’ coaching staff for next season. Gruden was most recently the head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL, leading them to a league title and Memorial Cup berth last season. He’s also the father of Ottawa Senators draft pick Johnathan Gruden, taken 95th-overall in the most recent draft.
New York is looking to reestablish themselves as a contender in the Metropolitan division and have undergone quite the face lift to do so. Lou Lamoriello is in as GM, Trotz will be behind the bench, and Mathew Barzal will take over as the star forward around which the team is built. Gruden will join Lane Lambert who was brought over with Trotz from the Washington Capitals and Scott Gomez, who served as an assistant coach last season under Doug Weight, as assistants.
Gruden had a 92-game NHL career during his playing days, and actually would have been well known to Trotz from his days in the AHL. When Trotz was coaching the Portland Pirates two decades ago, Gruden was a star defenseman for the division-rival Providence Bruins, even scoring 18 goals and 45 points in the 1996-97 season. It’s not clear exactly what his responsibilities will be, though it seems likely that he’ll take over a similar role to the one Todd Reirden had in Washington under Trotz working directly with the defensemen.