With the recently announced departure of Scott Pellerin it was only a matter of time before we saw a shuffle in regards to the Leafs Player Development department, those changes have come down today.
From the Leafs press release:
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has elevated Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to the role of Senior Director of Player Development and hired Danielle Goyette as the club’s Director of Player Development. Maple Leafs Player Development Consultant Darryl Belfry and Belfry Hockey Inc. will oversee the technical development of the club’s players and staff, while Will Sibley has been promoted to Director of Development Operations and Analysis.
So as a Leafs fan it’s hard not to excited about these changes. First of all, DOCTOR Hayley Wickenheiser is an absolute legend, and having her taken on an even more prominent role while she starts her residency speaks not only to how much the Leafs value her work, but also how astonishing Hayley is as she balances a senior position with the Leafs while working as a physician. Suddenly my blogging/day job balance seems unimpressive (editor’s note: it was never impressive.)
The Leafs bringing in another Order of Canada recipient in Danielle Goyette. A former teammate of Wickenheiser and a legendary USports coach, Danielle Goyette has been heavily involved in Hockey Canada’s Women’s program and will bring a ton of development experience to both the Leafs and Marlies.
The increased utilization of Darryl Belfry is a definite plus as well. Belfry has run one of the best hockey development programs in the world for a number of years, and the Leafs making sure he spends as much time with their players and prospects as possible is huge. It’s no coincidence that players seems to be improving after arriving in Toronto and a lot of that can be attributed to the work of Belfry, as well as Barb Underhill.
The expanded role for Will Sibley shows the Leafs commitment to studying their players and pin pointing where their development needs to take place. Sibley has been on a swift and steady climb through the ranks of the Leafs organization, and it is clear that Keefe and Dubas value his work.
Judging these moves will be difficult as this is very much the “how the sausage gets made” aspect of the organization that we don’t get to see and often don’t want to know more about, but the names involved point to this being something promising. The Leafs have the advantage of going out and paying for the best and bringing them in, and that appears to be what they’ve done with Goyette. They also believe they internally have the many of the pieces to the be the best and I think that’s why we saw more promotions than hires this go around.