Gilles Meloche is stepping down from his full-time position as the team’s goaltending coach to enjoy life and have more time with his wife, kids and grandchildren, but will still remain part of the organization he has been a member of for parts of four decades.
General manager Ray Shero and Meloche, who has been the team’s goaltending coach since 2006, agreed to a deal a month before the end of the regular season that will keep him with the Penguins as a special assignments scout for the next two seasons. It’s been in the works for a couple of years now as Meloche, 62, considered the transition over the past two seasons as he wished to spend more time with his family, especially his four grandkids.
“The last two years I’ve been working on one-year contracts because I’ve been talking about kind of slowing down,” Meloche said. “A coaching job is a demanding job. There’s long hours and long days and I have grandkids, so I want to slow down.”
His daughter’s husband coaches in Europe and Meloche plans to visit the family during the winter, something he hasn’t had time to do for more than 20 years. He will be able to do that now as he will be taking special assignments instead of moving to another full-time position.
“Even when I did some scouting, that’s just as bad as coaching, time-wise,” Meloche said. “You’re driving across countries. Now, I’ll get to spend more time with the family just in general.”
Meloche has spent a great deal of his life as a part of the Penguins franchise and Shero described Meloche, 62, as a “valued member” of the organization. He’s still going to be a part of it, but now he will have valuable room for other important aspects of his life.
“This is something that we’ve talked about over the last two years,” Shero said. “He’s got to the point in his career where’s it’s time for him to step back a bit, enjoy his life and his grandkids and his wife, Sophie. (He’s) a valued member of our staff and we look forward to working with him in the future and thank him for his contributions to three Stanley Cups here and the development and scouting of many young goaltenders.”
The former-NHL goalie, who ended his 18-year playing career with three seasons in Pittsburgh from 1985-88 before joining the team as a scout in 1990, was instrumental in the scouting and development of Stanley Cup winning-goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Meloche helped Fleury hone his skills beyond his athleticism and has been a key contributor to the staff during Bylsma’s tenure.
“He’s been an addition to our staff since that second year because of that role change,” Bylsma said. “And because of what he brought to our team, not just on the goaltending situation. But with Marc-Andre Fleury, he’s been a guy who has really served two huge roles for Marc-Andre Fleury in terms of adjusting and defining his style as a goalie and bringing him into a more controlled goaltender.
“Gilles, I’ve known for a couple years, he was going to step down or step back in some capacity. That will be missed.”
After 42 years in the NHL, the last seven as goaltending coach, Meloche said he was “mentally ready” to face his last run as a full-time member of the staff after agreeing to step down.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s where I’m at. I’m fortunate enough that there will be a transition. I will still be a part of the organization for two more years and I’m just fine with it. I’m really at peace.”
The new position will allow Meloche to remain with an organization he considers himself fortunate to have been a part of for over 20 years.
“I’ve been blessed. I figured, 42 years in the league, I haven’t worked a day in my life,” he said. “It was just normal and natural to get up and come to the rink. This organization for the past 10, 15 years it’s been unreal how it’s been built up. Everybody gets along so well. It’s really run professionally.
“You talk to players who play here who have come from other teams, they all want to be here. I’ve been blessed and it’s just been fun.”