The Toronto Marlies turned to the NHL’s assistant coaching ranks to fill a vacant position on their bench Tuesday, naming John Gruden as their new head coach.
Gruden, who served as an assistant with the Boston Bruins this past season, becomes the eighth head coach in the history of the American Hockey League club.
The Marlies, the top affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced last May that head coach Greg Moore and assistants A.J. MacLean and John Snowden would not have their contracts renewed.
“We’re very pleased to name John as the head coach of the Toronto Marlies,” said Ryan Hardy, the Leafs assistant GM in charge of minor-league operations. “John has supported the development and performance of his players throughout his coaching career while delivering team success at every level.
“His résumé from the U.S. National Team Development Program to the OHL and eventually the NHL has armed him with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be invaluable to both players and staff.”
The Marlies were swept in the first round of the AHL playoffs after finishing first in the North Division standings with a 42-24-4-2 record.
Gruden, a 53-year-old native of Virginia, Minn., worked as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders from 2018-22.
He posted a 76-45-8-7 mark over two seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs and guided the team to the OHL Championship in 2018. Gruden also served as head coach for the OHL’s Flint Firebirds in 2015-16.
Gruden began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the U.S. NTDP Juniors (USHL) from 2011-15. He led the American team to gold medals at the 2012 and 2014 U18 world championships.
As a player, Gruden was selected in the eighth round (No. 168 overall) of the 1990 NHL Draft. He had nine points (1-8) over 92 career games with the Bruins, Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals.