“It all started with an email,” remembers head ice hockey coach Trevor Large.
Large recalled the initial message he received earlier this summer, a message which would eventually lead to former NHL first-round draft pick and Stanley Cup Champion Daniel Paille joining the Golden Griffins coaching staff.
“We are very fortunate that what started with an email ended with conversations, and ultimately ended in him joining our staff,” Large said. “Anytime anybody around college hockey has an opportunity to add somebody with that resumé, it’s pretty obvious that any coach in the country would welcome it.” Welcome it they have, as Paille has had an immediate impact on the bench, especially on special teams.
Paille was one of the best penalty killers in the NHL, finishing in the top ten in short-handed goals twice during his career. His penalty killing in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals held the Vancouver Canucks power-play, which was the best in the NHL, to only two goals in seven games. Large reiterated that while he will definitely be asked to work with the penalty kill, his abilities in that area allow him to help the power play as well, as he knows how a power play works to try and pick apart a penalty kill.
While the benefits of having a former NHLer on the bench during a game are substantial, Paille emphasized that his job involves improvement and growth off the ice as well.
“There were a lot of scenarios in my career that I would’ve loved a little more help, and that’s where I want to help these players succeed. Off the ice there are so many things that players need help with that I don’t want them to feel afraid to ask.”
He is focused on growth overall, both on and off the ice.
One of the main jobs that coach Paille will have is to share his valuable experience and input during coaching discussions. One of the recurring phrases used by the entire Golden Griffins coaching staff is “discussion,” meaning that when the team makes a decision, all of the coaches are on the same page, and they all have a chance to insert their expertise into the conversation. The coaches all display a united front, with a mindset towards establishing a solidified culture so that the team can work together on improvement as a unit.
“Every day we have to improve,” Paille said. “We’re really looking forward to getting the confidence going.” As the team has not yet played an in-conference game, they have plenty of time to increase the team chemistry and gather momentum.
One player also looking forward to increasing the team confidence is captain Matt Hoover, who like the rest of the team was thrilled to hear that somebody with as much NHL experience is joining the program. “It was pretty immediate excitement, we all know the wow factor, but he’s so humble and so kind to everybody,” Hoover said. “Guys are talking to him all practice long.”
Canisius does not play an Atlantic Hockey opponent until the second weekend in November, which allows the team and coach Paille to continue growing in their chemistry.