You can hear the excitement in the voice of Dave Farrish, one of the new Mighty Ducks of Anaheim assistant coaches.
“Certainly, a tremendous amount of excitement to get back in the National Hockey League,” says Farrish, who played seven seasons in the NHL as a defenseman with Toronto, Quebec and the New York Rangers. “And to also be involved with a prestigious organization like the Mighty Ducks. It has a completely new staff, a new ownership group and it’s going to be a very exciting part of the NHL getting back up and running again. It’s a great time to be involved.”
Farrish spent last season as head coach and vice-president of hockey operations for the Pensacola Ice Pilots in the ECHL, leading the club to the league’s best record (51-16-5, a .743 winning percentage).
“It’s probably one of the toughest leagues to coach in,” added Farrish, who led the Louisiana IceGators (ECHL) to four consecutive division championships from 2000-01 to 2003-04. “You wear all the hats. You’re doing all the contract negotiations, scheduling buses and hotels. There’s immigration to deal with, plus coaching and everything else. You’re hands are entirely full there. Not a lot of assistants around.”
“But it’s a great coaching experience working with the younger kids and trying to get them up to the next level,” says Farrish. “There’s a lot of satisfaction involved with that.”
Prior to his time in the East Coast Hockey League, he was the head coach of the Springfield Falcons of the AHL from 1997-98 to 1999-2000. From 1993-94 to 1996-97, Farrish served as a head coach in the IHL with the Salt Lake City Golden Eagles (1993-94) and Fort Wayne Komets (1995-96 and 1996-97).
“At each level, the biggest thing is that you learn something new from the players every day,” said Farrish. “Whether it’s about you, a player or about the game of hockey. Everybody’s got input into the game. You see a lot of things at various levels that you can utilize at any other level. Every day is a learning experience in this game.”
Farrish began his coaching career with Moncton of the AHL in 1989-90, where he coached until joining the New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach under Herb Brooks before the 1992-93 season.
“That experience coaching under Herb was very unique,” added Farrish. “Herb was very creative and a very different individual. He saw the things that I wasn’t normally used to seeing. It was a great experience for me in the early days of my coaching career. It gave me a different angle on a lot of things. I sure appreciated the opportunity to get to know him and get to work with him.”
Was coaching at the NHL level always something you wanted to pursue after your playing days were over?
“I was probably 27 or 28 years old and knew my career was winding down,” mentioned Farrish. “I really enjoyed the game a lot and it was really all that I knew since I was three or four years old. So, I certainly wanted to stay involve if I could. I was fortunate to be able to make the transition easily and get right into coaching after my last year of pro.”
“I’ve really been enjoying it since,” added Farrish. “It keeps you young when you’re with all the young fellows in the locker room every day. It’s a great environment to be in. I think you will find if anyone gets out of hockey, that’s the one thing they miss. That locker room environment. And it’s great to be a part of that.”
Farrish says a coaching staff all have to be on the same page and preaching the same message.
“I think it’s important that everyone gets along well together,” says Farrish. “I think the players feed off how well the coaches interact with each other. And how well they interact with the players. It’s important to have the same messages coming to the players and really provide them with the situation where they can be successful. We are in a great situation here with some real quality people.”
Farrish, who brings 15 years of coaching experience to the Mighty Ducks, is excited about what he sees in Anaheim.
“Fortunately, I had a chance to coach Scott Niedermayer back in his rookie season with New Jersey,” said Farrish. “I’m anxious to get back on the ice with him and see how much he’s developed. Obviously, he has a pretty good resume behind him in the last dozen years. Also, all the other great young players and some of the older veteran guys are really going to provide us with a real good hockey club here to get started with. I’m really looking forward to getting involved.”
One of the real pluses for Farrish coming to Anaheim is getting to be around head coach Randy Carlyle and General Manager Brian Burke.
“They are both proven winners,” added Farrish. “They demand a lot from their people that work for them. And that’s one of the exciting things that I am looking forward to. Being a part of that environment where results are expected is something that I am very used to.”