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At 6’2’’, 220 pounds, Philadelphia Flyers left wing Riley Cote is calling it a career to open a new chapter in his life. And although he is retiring as a player, he is not leaving the organization he has called home for the past six years.
Cote will become an assistant coach with the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, joining head coach Greg Gilbert and associate coach Kjell Samuelsson on the coaching staff.
“I am really excited about this coaching opportunity,” Cote said. “I love Philly and the Flyers. I was so proud to be a Flyer and tried to best represent that every time I pulled the Orange and Black jersey over my head. Now it’s time for me to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life. I will do the best job I can do to help teach and develop all the players in Glens Falls on and off the ice. I'm looking forward to a new challenge in life.”
If going by his previous history, Cote is definitely one to rise and meet that challenge.
“I’ve known him since we were 16-year-old rookies in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and he’s always working hard,” said teammate Scott Hartnell
, who played two seasons in junior hockey with Cote for the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League.
Going from the low-ranks of professional hockey to fighting the big heavyweights of the NHL, it’s pretty crazy to see him retire at 28, but I think he kind of realized this is a good opportunity for him and we’re obviously supporting his decision and we’re happy for him.”
The native of Winnipeg, Manitoba went from being undrafted in the NHL after four seasons in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, to appearing in the CHL and ECHL the following two seasons.
From there he found a steady home in the AHL, finally landing in Philly. With the Phantoms, Cote helped lead the Flyers’ top farm team to their second Calder Cup Title in 2005 and signed his first NHL contract, eventually making his NHL debut on Mar. 24, 2007 vs. New York Islanders.
Living up to the Flyers-tough mentality, it didn’t take long for Cote to make his presence felt. On Mar. 30, 2007 Cote earned his first fight in the NHL vs. Devils’ forward Cam Janssen (watch here
) and from there, added another 50 fighting majors over the next 153 games.
Over the course of his NHL career, Cote appeared in 156 games, recording one goal and six assists for seven points to go along with his 411 penalty minutes. He led the Flyers in penalty minutes in 2007-08 (202) and again in 2008-09 (174), but it was his impact in the dressing room that had the biggest and most lasting effects to his teammates.
|A member of the 2005 Championship Phantoms Team, Riley Cote gets set to hoist the Calder Cup. |
“I only played one year with him, but he is probably one of the best teammates I have played with,” said Flyers forward Ian Laperriere
. “He never complained and always worked hard everyday. Even if he didn’t play that much last year, he was a big part of this team because of his work ethic and his team-first attitude. It’s rare and refreshing to see that in our game today.”
Those thoughts and sentiments go up and down the Flyers lineup and further proof of that came in just his second season with the team. Cote was named the co-recipient of the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as the Flyer who has most improved from the previous year by his teammates at the end of the 2007-08 season.
His impact on the team was felt everywhere in the dressing room, including coaching staff and management. If you’re convinced otherwise, just take it from those who where there:Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren:
“We are pleased to add Riley to our coaching staff in Glens Falls. Riley’s dedication, perseverance and passion for the game of hockey are beyond reproach. We believe he will be a good young coach, and his knowledge and experience will be very beneficial in the development of our young prospects.”President/COO of Comcast-Spectacor Peter Luukko
“We are thrilled that Riley is staying with us in this new capacity. Riley started his playing career in the ECHL and worked as hard as he could until he achieved his dream of playing in the National Hockey League. As a coach, we’re confident he’ll pass along that work ethic, drive and determination to our prospects and help them become the best players they can be.”Mike Richards
“He’s probably the hardest working guy on the team whether it’s on the ice or in the gym. He’s always working hard to get better and get stronger and probably the most positive guy in the dressing room.”Ian Laperriere
“He was a great team-guy. Always in a good mood. He was an easy going guy and it was very fun to go out to dinner with him on the road. He was there every pre-game skate, every warm-up he was there. He was there very early and if he did get the call he was ready.” Scott Hartnell
“First of all, he’s there [at practice and games] about an hour and a half before anyone else gets there. He’s up in the gym working out. He’s always working with the goalies and shooting on them. In the dressing room he’s always chipper. He’s always in a great mood. He’s always getting pumped up. If you get a big head, he’s there to kind of bring you back to planet Earth. He’s a great kid. He worked his heart off out there. He’ll be missed without a doubt.”