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Gilbert Likes Challenge of Job

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
July 27, 2006

TORONTO (CP) --  Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson installed Greg Gilbert as the new head coach of the AHL's Toronto Marlies on Thursday and continued to mull over possible additions to the big club's roster.

Greg Gilbert has a reputation for developing young players. (Getty Images/NHLI)

Gilbert, 44, got a three-year contract. Financial terms were not divulged. The former head coach of the NHL's Calgary Flames had been coaching the major junior team in Mississauga, and he now fills the position that opened up after Marlies coach Paul Maurice was promoted to replace Pat Quinn.

"I love seeing guys finally grasp something you've tried to teach them,'' Gilbert said of his development role.

Gilbert skated to Stanley Cup titles with the New York Islanders in 1982 and 1983 and with the New York Rangers in 1994. He became head coach of the St. Louis Blues' AHL team in Worcester, Mass., after retiring in 1996. Ferguson was the Blues' assistant general manager at the time, and they worked closely together for four years.

Gilbert moved to Calgary as an NHL assistant in 2000-2001 and became head coach of the Flames late that season. He held the post until the autumn of 2002 and he resurfaced in Mississauga, where he grew up along the lakeshore. Gilbert also coached Canada's under-18 national team last winter.

In junior hockey, he was captain of the Toronto Marlboros.

"Growing up in Port Credit, 20 minutes from here, and wearing Marlies blue as a junior player, it's nice to be home,'' said Gilbert. "I know what my job will be all about - developing young players so that when they need to be called up they're going to be able to step in and do the job.

"If you do a good job developing young players, winning follows. I'm just hoping I can do my part and support the big club as best I can.''

Ferguson confirmed that he'd talked to Andy Murray, the former head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, about the Marlies job, but he was happy to get Gilbert.

"His record for developing young talent is exceptional,'' said Ferguson.

The Leafs' boss has had a busy summer reshaping a lineup that missed the playoffs last spring. He bought out Tie Domi's contract, declined to exercise the club option on Ed Belfour, signed free agents Mike Peca, Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill and re-signed several of his veteran players.

"We're still looking at a couple of things,'' he said. "We're ready to go to camp as things currently stand but we're open to deals that make us better.''

He'd like to add a scorer up front. He's talked with the agent for free agent Anson Carter but the price probably is too steep given the team's closeness to the $44-million US salary cap.

With Domi gone, a decision was made to retain big Wade Belak, who might be too slow for the new offence-oriented NHL, but Ferguson was reluctant to go without a heavyweight who'll stick up for his teammates. Belak got an extension through 2007-2008 on Wednesday.

"He's a good, solid contributor and a good character player on and off the ice,'' said Ferguson.

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