Got the news yesterday that, barring any real surprise, the next Aeros head coach will either be Trent Yawney, Gary Agnew or Ryan McGill.
If those names sound familiar, they should. No matter which direction they go, the Aeros will have a very good hockey person in charge of the team come October.
Yawney coached in Norfolk and is good friends with Todd McLellan, who coached the Aeros in their early AHL days. Yawney has been an assistant under McLellan in San Jose and is the former head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.
I am a little less familiar with Agnew, but he was in charge of the Syracuse AHL team for many years and then was an assistant under Claude Noel in Columbus.
As for McGill, Aeros fans probably saw his coaching style with Omaha/Quad City Flames. He them moved up as an assistant with Calgary, where he has been since the team moved to Abbotsford.
I am reaching out to see what I can find out about these guys from colleagues who have covered their teams. My gut says Yawney is going to get the gig, and I really hope I am right.
He did a lot with some weird Norfolk teams and was completely hosed in Chicago.
Here is a quote from one of my peers, Trys Wykes about Yawney: "He was awesome. One of the best people I've ever dealt with. He can be a tiny bit grumpy in certain situations but I miss him tremendously. An amazing father figure to young players. Houston and Minnesota will be lucky to have him."
Yawney in Chicago
Wykes covered the Norfolk Admirals for many years for the Virginia Pilot. Read this article he wrote about Yawney from back in the day.
McGill comes highly recommended, too. From another colleague, Joe Clark, who is now the GM for the NAHL team in Odessa: "His teams were always competitive, and you know what ... they always, always worked their asses off. And he does not sugar coat anything with the prospects. Tells them what they have to do to get better. Kind of reminds me of Barry Trotz in that regard. He is really old school, but he is great at developing guys."
I will update this post if/when I hear back about Agnew. For now, I will go with this quote from Lindsay Kramer, who covers the Crunch in upstate NY: "He always had the knack for teaching and relating to younger players, identifying their strengths and putting them in a position to do well."
Agnew in Columbus
This is a great year to be in the market for an AHL coach. All of these guys will make a great head coach. It will be a tough choice for Fletcher, Mill and company. But again, I really hope that Trent Yawney is our guy.