The Kingston Frontenacs are going blue.
Former Leafs captain Doug Gilmour is adding the role of general manager to his portfolio with the Ontario Hockey League team and has brought in former teammate Todd Gill to coach the club.
“I’m not completely leaving the bench,” Gilmour said, “but with the scouting a GM needs to do I won’t be with the team all the time.”
Gilmour is just a year into a five-year contract with the Frontenacs but the organization’s inability to land prospects left them without a position player on Central Scouting’s list of top prospects for the 2011 entry draft.
“This is something the owners, the Springer family, wanted. We’ve been missing that intense level of scouting and those conversations with a prospect’s parents that hopefully will result in a young man playing for us,” he said.
Gilmour signed a five year contract with the team last year. The Frontenacs made the playoffs in his only two full years behind the bench, but could not advance past the first round of the OHL playoffs.
“Mark Hunter (the London Knights GM) does this,” Gilmour said. “He walked me through it but you have to accept that you are not always going to be on the bench all the time. There are eight tournaments you have to scout and you have to knock on a lot of doors and meet a lot of kids which I am looking forward to.”
Gilmour had been speaking with Gill often. His old teammate had an excellent record managing and coaching the team he owned, the Jr. A. Brockville Braves.
“Todd had every requirement,” Gilmour said. “He’s dedicated, talented and a real hard worker.”
Now 45, Gill spent nine years with six NHL teams and captained the San Jose Sharks for two years.
From a list of coaches that included current Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, Scotty Bowman and many more, Gill tabs former Leafs coach the late Pat Burns as the one who influenced him most.
“The first time I saw him, he said ‘I know you can bring more offence. A lot of people around here want to get rid of you but I’m not one of them. We’re going to work with you.”
Under Burns, Gill pushed his goal total to 11 from two and goosed his point total from 17 to 43.
“Pat was like that. He would give you a chance but if you didn’t want to listen or play to the role he had for you, well that was up to you. He was an SOB but probably the most respected coach I ever played for.”
It is rote among former players that while coaching is fun, nothing can match the life of the player.
Gill isn’t so sure.
“I truly enjoy the coaching,” he said. “I like the mental chess games you play with the opposing coaches, the strategy you need to develop, all the tactics you need to get 20 players moving as one."
“I think I like it more than playing.”