Mike Kitchen started about as far as a coach can get from the Stanley Cup final.
When he joined the Newmarket Saints, one-time farm team of the Maple Leafs, it was autumn of 1988, the near nadir of the franchise. Owner Harold Ballard was at his most erratic, his team was pathetic and set to miss the playoffs three times in four years, with little thought to strategy and attention to detail.
It turned out to be a great launching pad for Kitchen’s new vocation after eight years on the blueline with the Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils. He came back to his GTA roots, where he’d played with the junior champion Marlies, to a team that valued the contributions and continuity he offered.