New coach Marty Johnston has stepped into the skates of his former boss as head of the Ravens men’s hockey team—and he’s brought along some high-profile help in the form of former NHLer Shaun Van Allen.
Former head coach Fred Parker is now a scout for the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Johnston, who was named coach in June, says, “We hope to build off the success of the past few seasons.” Prior to joining the Ravens in 2007, Johnston’s playing career included a Memorial Cup championship with the Hull Olympiques and professional stints with the East Coast Hockey League, the American Hockey League’s Lowell Lock Monsters and a brief stop with the Edinburgh Capitals of the British National League.
His familiarity with the team and players should smooth his way ahead. “I am very fortunate to inherit a program full of talented players with great character,” he says. One of Johnston’s first acts as head coach was to hire former Ottawa Senator Shaun Van Allen as assistant coach. The two met four years ago while playing in a charity hockey game. “He was my first choice when building a coaching staff,” Johnston says. “His playing experience speaks for itself. We both seem to share the same philosophies about the game, although we debate daily on tactics and systems.”
They also share the same philosophy with regard to work ethic, understanding that success follows from hard work.
I thought this would be a good starting point. I have always been interested in coaching, and this sounded like a good challenge.
For Van Allen, who briefly served as the Sens’ director of player evaluation in 2006, the opportunity to step in with the Ravens opens a door to a possible coaching career. “There is ambition to do further coaching,” he says, “and I thought this would be a good starting point. I thought it was a good fit for myself and my family. I have always been interested in coaching, and this sounded like a good challenge.”
As a player, Van Allen was one of those unsung heroes who did a lot of the grind work, making the team concept come alive. A responsible two-way forward, he never shied away from taking or giving hits. Occasionally he even scored goals, like a memorable one in overtime against New Jersey during the 2003 Stanley Cup semifinals.
In addition to captain Brad Good and OUA East Men’s second team all-star Brandon MacLean, Johnston is excited about a number of new additions, including former OHLer Jeff Hayes. “He is a highly skilled centre who should be a threat to score each night,” says Johnston. “Any time you have a captain from a major junior organization [Oshawa Generals], you are getting a special individual.”
Johnston says his focus will be on preparation and attention to detail. “We plan on pushing the players to be their best on and off the ice every day. Work ethic and discipline will be the pillars of our program.” He says Van Allen will have an immediate impact on player development. “He’s an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a winning team at Carleton.”