By George Johnson
The personality doesn’t require artificial altering simply because the business card has changed.
“You do have to be mindful of the difference in your role,” acknowledges Cail MacLean, “but it doesn’t make me a different person.
“I can only be me, no matter what my job title is.
“I’ve done this before, graduating from player to assistant coach to head coach in South Carolina, so I ended up coaching friends I’d been with for years, and it all happened in a short period of time.
“I’m fortunate to have had a run-through there.
“I’m a person, not a title. I’ve got to make sure I carry out my role in a responsible way and treat our players as people.”
With the promotion of Ryan Huska to assistant with the parent Flames, the 41-year-old MacLean has been selected to succeed him as head coach of the organization’s top minor-league affiliate, the AHL Stockton Heat.
MacLean initially joined the Flames’ umbrella in 2011 as part of the Abbotsford Heat staff, and returned in 2015 to become head coach of its ECHL affiliate in Adirondack.
The 2017-18 season was his first in Stockton.
“Extremely excited,” says MacLean. “I think this is an excellent opportunity for myself and my family.
“One of the highlights of this situation is to work for great people. I’m very grateful to Brad Treliving, Brad Pascall, Ryan Huska for his support in this process, and the entire organization.
“This is well-run organization in terms of their view on development and the emphasis they place on it. My goal is to continue that, to push to produce players ready to contribute to the Calgary Flames.”
After a 10-year professional playing career, MacLean segued into coaching in 2008 beside current Colorado boss – and 2018 Jack Adams Trophy finalist as NHL coach of the year – Jared Bednar on the bench of the East Coast League South Carolina Stingrays.
After lifting the Kelly Cup in 2009, Bednar stepped away and MacLean inherited the reins.
“Jared Bednar is someone I played with and then worked with as a coach and has a big influence on me,” says MacLean. “Bruce Cassidy in Boston is someone I played for in several locations and has been someone I’ve leaned on for advice and support.
“Troy Ward, who I also played for (with the ECHL Trenton Titans) and worked with after I got to Abbotsbord, has been a great mentor for me, helping me learn the craft of teaching the game.
“Of course you want to be your own coach but at the same time when you’re exposed to different coaches and their styles, you can’t help but pick up things.
“Very differing personalities, all of the men I mentioned, but certainly it’s good to be able to mix different elements together.
“I think that’s one of the best parts of the profession: The learning, the growing, never stops. It’s something about this business that really appeals to me.”
Receiving this opportunity in an environment he knows should make for a seamless transition.
“Familiarity helps you understand the situation you’re dealing with,” MacLean agrees. “I already know a lot of the personalities – players, staff – that I’ll be working alongside.
“I’m in a different capacity, yes, but as I said before I’m still the same person. To me, one of the most important parts of the job is personal connection.
“And I have a head start on that.”