Gilbert returns to his roots

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Maybe Greg Gilbert should have picked a profession with more job security.

In each of his three seasons as a member of -- you guessed it -- the Toronto Marlies, Gilbert played for a different coach, a significant indication of the job's volatility.

"After seeing that, maybe I should have learned that (coaching) is the last career you'd ever want to be in," Gilbert said before breaking into laughter.

Joking aside, taking over as the new coach of the AHL's Marlies couldn't be a better fit for the Mississauga native, who played his junior hockey for the OHL Marlies from 1979-82.

Gilbert, after all, is a very familiar commodity to Leafs GM John Ferguson and pro scout Craig Button.

Ferguson was the assistant GM of the St. Louis Blues in 1996 when Gilbert became head coach of the Blues' top farm team in Worcester. Players who thrived under his tutelage included Marty Reasoner and Michal Handzus.

Gilbert, 44, eventually moved to Calgary where he would work his way up to head coach of the Flames. Button was the GM of the team at the time.

Gilbert spent the past three seasons coaching the OHL's Mississauga IceDogs, but knew his future was up in the air when Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk recently purchased the team with designs on relocating it.

"My family was happy in this area and we wanted to stay here. This works out great," said Gilbert, who signed a three-year deal. "Growing up in Port Credit and having worn Marlie colours, I'm thrilled. When the Leafs organization decided to call their farm team the Marlies, I thought it was the perfect name for obvious reasons."

Gilbert, the AHL's coach of the year in 1996-97 claims his No. 1 priority is developing players for the parent Leafs.

Ferguson suggested a number of "former Leaf players" will be considered to be assistant coaches. Bob McGill and Rick Vaive would appear to be among the obvious choices.

Joe Paterson, an assistant to Paul Maurice last season, has not been officially retained. Ferguson and his staff plan on speaking with him in the coming days.


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