Doug Gilmour knows exactly when he caught the coaching bug.
While serving as a professional development advisor for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gilmour accepted an invitation to go behind the bench with Canada's entry at the 2007 Spengler Cup tournament.
At that point, he knew he needed to spend less time watching from the press box and more at ice level.
"When you're doing the scouting and player development side, it's the easiest game in the world," said Gilmour, who is 12 games into his career as an assistant coach with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
"Being behind the bench, with the experience I had over there, that's where I had more passion. Sitting upstairs is not the same. When you're down at (ice) level, you see what the players see and it's a great thing. It's fun."
As a guy known for his fiery nature during his playing days, Gilmour has taken a more subtle approach in his first coaching assignment.
"Your emotions have to change," said Gilmour, who played with the Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames during a career that spanned 1,474 regular season games and another 182 Stanley Cup playoff contests.
"When you first get out there, you're kind of moving a little bit, going with the play and listening to what's happening but you're focus is to what the whole surroundings and maintain who is going up next."
The feisty centre is also learning how to bite his tongue when he doesn't agree with a referee's decisions.
"When you're a player and you're involved, you can get away with saying things to the ref," said Gilmour, whose No. 93 will be raised to the rafters at Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Jan. 31. "As an assistant coach, I don't say a word."
Watching Gilmour cruise around during the morning skate yesterday with that gleam in his eye and deftly blasting pucks into the top corner, you got the feeling he could still play the game at a high level.
But Gilmour scoffed at the suggestion of a comeback.
"This is my sixth year (in) retirement and I've never even thought about that," said Gilmour, who announced his retirement on Sept. 8, 2003. "I enjoyed every minute I played and you always have regrets when you shut it down. But 20 years was a long time."
HOPES TO BE BACK
As far as his future in coaching goes, Gilmour wants to take some time before listing any grandiose plans. But the look on his face suggests he wants to get back to the NHL level at some point.
"I'm only on a one-year deal here and we'll all sit down at the end of the year and see how the situation goes with the hockey club," said Gilmour. "I'm going to sit back and have fun this year and whatever happens next year, I'm hoping to be back somewhere."
Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel isn't surprised to see Gilmour join the coaching fraternity.
"It's good. He wants to stay in the game and he's got a lot of knowledge," said Arniel, who was a junior teammate of Gilmour with the Cornwall Royals. "He played the game for a long time, he's played on a Stanley Cup winner and he has a lot to give back to the game. I'm sure he'll do well at it."