By Dustin Cowell
In the second installment of our “Behind the Bench” series focusing on our hockey operations staff traveling to Stockton to lead the Heat this upcoming season, we turn our attention to Assistant Coach Todd Gill.
If the name Todd Gill doesn’t sound familiar to you as a California hockey fan, it should. Gill captained the San Jose Sharks for two seasons from 1996-1998 and was one of the pound-for-pound toughest guys in the NHL during his 19-year career.
Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1984, Gill played 1007 career games in the NHL and amassed 354 points (82 goals, 272 assists) to go along with 1,214 penalty minutes.
He wasn’t the biggest guy in the league, but he feared nobody. At 6’0”, 185 lbs. Gill took on some of the league’s best heavyweights from Brad May to Marty McSorley to Andrei Nazarov.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a fight in which Gill had the size advantage or even wasn’t at a massive size disadvantage. He even took on arguably the greatest Calgary Flames player ever in Jarome Iginla in a spirited scrap back in 2001.
While his playing career was certainly an impressive one, Gill is now building an extraordinary coaching career as a follow up. While he remains a “cult hero” so-to-speak in Toronto for his 12-years spent with the Maple Leaf on his chest, Gill is beginning to plant roots within the “C of Red” entering his second year with the Flames organization.
Gill arrives in Stockton following his rookie season as an AHL Assistant Coach with the Adirondack Flames. He was hired in Adirondack following his three-year stint as Head Coach of the Kingston Frontenacs in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) where he coached the Calgary Flames’ 4th-overall pick in 2014 Sam Bennett among others.
In 2013-14, Gill led Kingston to their most wins (39) since the 1989-90 season and their second OHL playoffs appearance during his tenure.
Prior to his time in Kingston, Gill spent five years as Owner, General Manager and Head Coach of the Brockville Braves in the Central Junior Hockey League (CJHL), the league that is a level below the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).
Gill led the Braves to a 198-81-22 record over those five seasons and won the Fred Page Cup as the Eastern Canadian Junior ‘A’ champions in 2010. He also represented Team Canada U-18 as an Assistant Coach at the World Juniors Championship in 2012 and helped lead Canada to a bronze medal.
Gill’s primary duties in Stockton will likely resemble his duties in Adirondack as the defensive coach. When it comes to developing the defensive side of the game, what better leader could there be than a guy that played over 1,000 games in the NHL and knows what it takes to not only earn the call-up, but also stay there for nearly two decades?