Do you think Taylor Gauthier could make it to the NHL? pic.twitter.com/SWFWLcJ6nh
– Martin Blanchette (@mblanchette1966) December 20, 2023
What’s up gang. By popular demand, I’ve got an article ready for you for Christmas Eve. The demand was there and I’m always happy to answer your questions.
I’d like to start by wishing you all a Merry Christmas. I wish you everything you want, but above all, quality time with the people you love. We often forget that. And now for this week’s questions.
We may talk about the ECHL as a development league, especially in our case in Wheeling with the association we have with our AHL team and the NHL. But there’s a long way to go between playing in the ECHL and playing in the NHL.
Taylor is currently in the top 5 in the ECHL in terms of stats, and he’s excellent.
The plan for him is to see as many games as possible, since he’s a number 1 goalie. That’s better than being elsewhere and seeing one game every two weeks, for example. He’s still young, 22 years old and has his whole future ahead of him.
He’s improved enormously this season compared with last year. He understands the situation better, he’s matured a lot and it’s all been good for him and for our organization.
Hi Mitch, happy holidays to you and your family. Who’s in charge of echl transactions and it can’t be easy in the holiday season to trade or let go of a player. Pit and WBS are back with healthy rosters
– Jp Tremblay (@JeanPoudd11) December 20, 2023
There is a transaction freeze in both the ECHL and NHL. In the ECHL, there’s a hockey operations freeze, i.e. transactions or waivers, from December 23 to December 27. So there’s less hassle for players at that level, knowing that from the 23rd, they can’t move.
If we take ourselves as an example, as you mentioned, Pittsburgh and Wilkes are now healthy, so we’ve been able to get Laderoute, Addamo and Svejkovsky to strengthen our team.
Unfortunately, this means that we have a surplus of players and have to move some around. In the last 10 days, we’ve made three transactions in order to be compliant.
Subsequently, we traded a forward and a defenseman for the future. Unfortunately, this was, as you mentioned, a little more difficult as the holidays approached. But that’s part of the business. Now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the teams above us stay healthy.
To answer the other part of the question. Those responsible for transactions, signatures and the like. It’s pretty much me and my coach Derek, who’s the team GM. I help him with all decisions and players. I do player analysis too, just like my coach.
So, without having the official title, I’m assistant to the GM.
Redgy Strial: Often in the NHL when a coach is fired, the assistant coach stays on. In the ECHL when a coach gets fired 1/2
– Mitch Giguere (@Mitch_Giguere) December 21, 2023
Often what happens is, coaches want to start fresh and make sure they’re working with people they have a connection with. As a result, we often see the same hockey staff following each other from team to team.
When my KHL coach, David, signed his new contract this year, he phoned me straight away to ask if I’d like to follow him, because we have that kind of complicity.
It’s also important to remember that we spend more time – a lot more time – with our coaches, both at home and on the road, than we do with our families all year round. So if you hate your assistant… it’s not great and it’s going to show.
In the ECHL, we often see a complete overhaul, since most teams have only one assistant. So it’s easier to start from scratch, and also because we don’t have the same salary as NHL coaches.
Who does the firing come from? It can come from two places, from the team management, for example the president, otherwise, for our part, it could come from Pittsburgh/Wilkes, because they have an idea of how they want the teams to run and want to make sure it’s well respected.
Let’s take my interviews as an example. I’ve always had the Wilkes GM question me during my interviews, because he wanted to be involved, and at my last interview, Pittsburgh’s assistant GM, Jason Spezza, was in the interview with his series of questions.
Pat Rice: What are your aspirations in hockey? Head coach, stay assistant, move up and become a video coach again?
– Mitch Giguere (@Mitch_Giguere) December 21, 2023
If you’d asked me that question two years ago, I’d have had a different version, if you’d asked me that question a year ago, I’d have had a different version than now and two years ago.
I wanted to become a video coach, even though I don’t like it any more than I have to. But I wanted to get my foot in the door in the AHL so that later I could make the jump to assistant coach. Because it’s a lot harder to get into a league than it is to walk around in one.
In the meantime, the Montreal Carabins came into the picture with Danièle Sauvageau and I saw myself with them for the very long term, because I loved my hockey experience with the group of girls we had and, in terms of hockey employment, the conditions were perfect.
Now that I’ve taken the plunge, I see myself as a long-term assistant and I love my role, even if I took a second assistant coach with us, because the workload is enormous.
I know my strengths and weaknesses and I know I’m a better assistant coach, or at least you can get more out of me if you have me as an assistant than as a head coach.
I’ve been lucky enough to occupy practically every position in the hockey world. But here, I have a one-year contract plus an option. I didn’t know what my family and I were getting into, so we thought, why not give it a try and see.
So far, it’s been one of the best adventures and experiences we’ve had, and I’m not going to lie and tell you that I like it here and I see myself here for the long term.
So much so that I’d love to have a bigger “title” as associate coach following the next negotiations and new contract if necessary. My experience as a GM in Western Canada and Russia gives me a helping hand with transactions here in Wheeling.
This concludes my article. I’d like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season. But above all, happy junior championships.
As for me, my little family is in Quebec for the holidays, I’m at home taking care of the cats and recharging the batteries, we have a few games over the holidays. Once again, thank you all. Have a good Sunday and we’ll talk again @Mitch_Giguere.