The Toronto Maple Leafs have plucked one of the top coaches from the AHL ranks to take over their vacancy at assistant coach. The team has announced that Hershey Bears head coach Spencer Carbery has been hired to join Sheldon Keefe’s staff. Carbery replaces Dave Hakstol, who left to become the inaugural head coach of the Seattle Kraken.
Even as a minor league coach, Carbery should be a recognizable name for many. The 39-year-old is the reigning AHL Coach of the Year, named the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award after leading Hershey to a 24-7-2-0 record. Carbery only just completed his third season as an AHL head coach, but in that time the Bears went 104-50-9-8 for a .658 points percentage that was among the AHL’s best in that span. Carbery previously won the ECHL Coach of the Year Award as well, taking home the honor in his third of five seasons spent as the head coach and Director of Hockey Operations for the South Carolina Stingrays. He is no stranger to Ontario either, spending one season as the head coach of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.
Carbery is a well-regarded head coach and should be a natural fit with a Toronto staff that is young and innovative, much like the culture of the team. There could be an adjustment period, seeing as Carbery has no NHL experience to this point, but having fellow young coaches around who went through the same transition not long ago will help the process. Meanwhile, Carbery’s loss will be felt in a major way in Hershey and the Washington Capitals must now work quickly to find a new bench boss for their AHL affiliate.