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Malhotra Returns

by Derek Jory @NoJoryous / Vancouver Canucks
It didn't take Manny Malhotra long to get back into hockey.

The 36-year-old rejoined the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday in the role of Development Coach. He'll work with the coaching staff on a part-time basis for home practices, and will work with players to develop specialized skills, including face-offs and systems. He will also travel on occasion to work with Canucks prospects.

 

Malhotra, who amassed 295 points (116-179-295) and 451 penalty minutes in 991 games over an 18-year NHL career - including three seasons with the Canucks - played for the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters last season, but this summer decided his playing days were over.

Not wanting to completely walk away from hockey, Malhotra met with Canucks coach Willie Desjardins who joked that "the only reason you get into coaching is because you can't play anymore."

"That seems to be very true at this point," laughed Malhotra, a native of Mississauga, Ontario. "That being said, coaching is something that has always interested me. I would love to play, I still enjoy being out on the ice, I enjoy the work that goes into it, but this is a great transition into that next step."

Malhotra is hoping to help the Canucks take the next step in the circle.

Last year Vancouver was dead last in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 45.4. Having the puck is the most important part of hockey and it goes without saying winning faceoffs gives you possession of said puck.

Amongst Canucks who have taken at least seven career faceoffs, Malhotra has the highest faceoff percentage in team history at 60.6 per cent. The lethal centreman won 1,378 of 2,275 faceoffs in 159 games with Vancouver and a big part of his role will be passing his knowledge onto others.

"A lot of my role has to do with the development of the young centremen," said Malhotra. "Obviously statistically we weren't that good in the circle last year, so that number has to come up if we want to improve in the standings. Working with the young guys, working with the centremen, teaching them systems and just trying to help out in any way possible is what my role will be."

Malhotra will be welcomed into the locker room with open arms. Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Jannik Hansen, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev were all teammates with Malhotra during the 2012-13 season, his last in Vancouver.

Familiarity in the room and a love for the west coast also both played into Malhotra's decision to return to hockey.

"There's something about being in the locker room and being part of a team that I don't think you can emulate in regular everyday life. I had a real special bond with the guys from my years here, I think we took it beyond that level of just being teammates and we did truly become a family.

"Signing with Vancouver was a great experience for me and I always call myself an adopted west coaster. I love living here, I love being here, I love being part of the community here, so to be able to rejoin the Canucks in a coaching/developmental capacity is a real nice progression for me in my post-hockey career."

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