The New Jersey Devils have finally rid themselves of Ryane Clowe’s contract, but they’ll now lose any experience and guidance that he could bring to the team. Clowe had been operating as an assistant coach while his contract was put on long-term injured reserve, but is now headed back to Newfoundland as the first head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs new ECHL affiliate. Clowe will take over as head coach of the Newfoundland Growlers, and really begin the second part of his hockey career.
Clowe, 35, saw his career ended abruptly by concussions, as he was advised by doctors in 2015 not to continue playing. At that point, he was in the middle of a five-year, $24.25MM contract he signed with the Devils in 2013, and would have to wait out the rest of it on the sidelines. The big, bruising winger had been a force in the NHL, scoring 45 or more points four times and collecting 618 penalty minutes in just 491 games. Though his signature was his physical play, his offensive game was underrated at times and he’ll try to pass on that knowledge to the next wave of Maple Leafs prospects.
Toronto has built a three-tiered development system with their ECHL club, using it to work with players who may have a glaring weakness or need to improve their physical fitness. Clowe will try to help raw players get off on the right foot in their professional careers, and maybe one day even make it to the NHL.