The San Diego Gulls, AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, are bringing in some fresh faces behind the bench. The team announced that they have hired Sylvain Lefebvre and David Urquhart as assistant coaches for the coming season. The pair will join the staff of former Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins in San Diego. Lefebvre, a well-known name in hockey, has been the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliates – in Hamilton, St. John’s, and Laval – for the past six years, but was not retained by the organization this off-season. He also served as an assistant coach at the NHL and AHL level for the Colorado Avalanche. Lefebvre enjoyed a long NHL career, suiting up for 945 games over 14 seasons with four organizations, including a Stanley Cup-winning campaign with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. Urquhart is a more outside-the-box hire, but could help with the development of the Ducks’ young prospects. An assistant coach at McGill University in Montreal for the past six years, Urquhart was also a standout player for McGill in the mid-2000’s. He also got a taste of the AHL, playing in 130 games before joining the coaching ranks. The Gulls missed the playoffs last season for the first time since joining the AHL and are hoping that some new voices behind the bench could make the difference in getting back to postseason and continuing to provide Anaheim with pro-ready talent.
- A former Duck is not looking to return to the NHL. Jonas Hiller, now 36, has not played an NHL game since the 2015-16 season, when he struggled greatly as the backup for the Calgary Flames. However, prior to that unfortunate campaign, Hiller spent seven years as one of the best and most consistent goalies in the league for Anaheim and even found success in his first season in Calgary. Since he left the league, he has also done well for himself, playing for EHC Biel-Bienne of the NLA in his native Switzerland. Last year in particular, Hiller was one of the best goalies in the league. Given that recent success and his impending free agency, some speculated that he might eye an opportunity to return to the NHL next summer. However, that thought was put to rest today when Biel-Bienne announced a one-year extension for their star keeper. Barring an otherworldly performance over the next two seasons, it seems unlikely that Hiller would want or be able to return to the NHL at age 38 when his current contract expires.
- Another former Duck, and former teammate of Hiller’s, defenseman Luca Sbisa is still weighing his options for the coming season. No sooner did a report come out yesterday claiming Sbisa could receive a PTO from the Vegas Golden Knights that agent Andre Rufener now tells the Swiss Hockey News that Sbisa has already received a PTO offer from an “unnamed team”. Rufener also states that there is considerable interest in his client and that several teams are weighing a contract offer. It seems that Sbisa is inclined to hold out for that solid offer rather than accept a PTO at this point in time. With so much noise surrounding the 28-year-old blue liner, it seems likely that he will find a new NHL home before the puck drops on the new season.