|Former NHL defenseman Darren Rumble, the new head man in Norfolk, got into coaching three years ago after being told he was no longer needed as a player with the Springfield Falcons.
Rumble was an aging defenseman for Springfield in 2004-05. Early in the season, he suffered a serious back injury.
While he was rehabbing, the organization had a thought for him to ponder. We are going to go a little younger on the blue line, it said. Maybe you might want to retire and be a Falcons assistant coach.
Like, right now.
"It stung a little bit, having your coach say you're not getting back in the lineup,'' Rumble said. "When I was playing, I never, ever considered (coaching). It never even crossed my mind. It's nothing you can ever count on. But if there's one thing I've learned over my 20 years, it's that timing is important.''
And now, Rumble's time has come.
Tampa Bay has tabbed the 39-year-old to take over in Norfolk, replacing Steve Stirling. Rumble was an assistant for the Lightning's affiliate for four seasons – three in Springfield and one in Norfolk.
The Admirals are getting a coach with a fire that's been simmering long before he was nudged into his new profession. Rumble doesn't just play games. He won't shoot a friendly round of golf unless there are a couple of bucks, or maybe a chocolate bar, on the line. He rarely gives in when playing games with his children.
Since a playoff-less season ended for Norfolk in the spring, he's been plotting for a turnaround, whether as an assistant again or as the man in charge. He doesn't coach a game so much as call it.
"I think that's another reason the guys respond to me,'' said Rumble, who played 193 NHL games with Philadelphia, Ottawa, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. "On the bench, I pick up things that just happen and recognize them. Those things need to be dealt with immediately. I think the guys tend to feed off that. I'll talk the game, so everyone can hear it. 'Where's our third man high?' I think they can feel my competitiveness.''
If Rumble was slow to recognize his coaching potential, well, he might have been the only one. His environment not only made him a great player – he was the AHL's defenseman of the year in 1996-97 – but also a born instructor.
His father, mother, stepmother and mother-in-law all were teachers.
"I think if you talk to the players, they enjoy playing for me," Rumble said. "I think I'm in a good role here. I'm a visual guy. You could tell me something 100 times, I may not get it. I'm usually the last guy off the ice. I'd rather spend time out there making a guy better. I like to teach by demonstration.''
The Lightning also named a new GM and assistant coach for Norfolk, with Mike Butters getting the former and Alan May sliding into the latter.
Coaching promotions – The two best teams in the AHL last season played so well the men running them earned deserved promotions.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Todd Richards has taken an assistant coaching job with the San Jose Sharks. Richards coached the Penguins for two seasons, taking them to the Calder Cup finals in 2007-08.
One possible successor to Richards is current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant Dan Bylsma, who has been with that team for two seasons.
The Chicago Wolves, the team that beat the Penguins for the Calder Cup in June, still are looking to replace John Anderson, now the bench boss in Atlanta. The Wolves' new coach could be named within a week.
In other coaching news, Grand Rapids has selected Curt Fraser as its new head coach. Fraser is a former coach of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Rising in Phoenix – The last time that Brad Treliving changed jobs, he only had to move his office about 30 minutes across downtown Phoenix.
For as much as his responsibilities changed with that switch, though, Treliving might as well have hopped a cross-country jet.
Regardless, with the support his current bosses are giving him, it could be a while before Treliving needs to update his resume again.
Earlier this offseason, Treliving, in his second season in the organization, was promoted from player personnel director of the San Antonio Rampage to that team's general manager. Since the Rampage's NHL parent is the Coyotes, and he is assistant GM of that team, he works out of Phoenix.
That's the same city where Treliving worked for seven seasons as president of the Central Hockey League. It was unique training for eventual work in an NHL front office.
"My background, I feel fortunate it prepared me,'' he said. "It gives you a chance to see 18 different organizations. It lets you see the things that are good and the things you would do different. It allows you to develop your own ideas.''
And the Coyotes have let Treliving turn them from theory into action. He was integral in Phoenix recently extending its affiliation agreement with San Antonio through the 2010-11 season. The organization also has been aggressive in the minor league free agent market, signing defenseman Drew Fata, right wing Derek Nesbitt, left wing Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Ryan Lannon.
Watching games from a detached viewpoint is fun. Being a part of the action with a rooting interest is even better.
"It's different than going to a game at the league level," Treliving said. "You are not concerned with wins and losses. You are concerned with fair play. I knew, at some point, I wanted to be involved on the team side. You leave here, you feel good after wins and not so good after losses. For all the people who are competitors, that's what you want.''
Flood of relief – Albany defenseman Mark Flood has enough heavy lifting to do this offseason to repair his injured shoulder. He didn't need any mental baggage to tote around as well.
The Carolina organization made sure that won't be a concern.
Taking a leap of faith for a player who started last season as an extra part and ended it as damaged goods, the Hurricanes recently gave Flood peace of mind in the form of a two-way contract.
"I was definitely a little bit nervous," Flood said. "Nobody wants to get hurt at the end of the season when your contract's up. To get that contract signed and know what I had to do, that's a relief.''
When Flood, 23, got the chance to be focused last season, he was one of the most improved players in the AHL. He was a healthy scratch to start the season, trading minutes with two rookie defensemen.
He eventually took over as a power-play quarterback and chipped in with 10 goals and 12 assists in 53 games. He suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder in February, an ailment that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
"I was kind of fighting to get in the lineup," he said. "As the year went on, I tried to keep a level head. All I wanted was a chance. I tried to prepare myself as best I could. When I did get a chance, I tried to do everything right. Hopefully I'll come back where I left off.''