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Manny Malhotra is ready for his new role as Abbotsford Canucks bench boss

Vancouver Canucks Manny Malhotra
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
26 days ago
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Who doesn’t love a comeback?
On Friday morning, the Vancouver Canucks announced the hiring of former player and assistant coach Manny Malhotra.
The move follows a week of rumours circulating that Jeremy Colliton, the previous head coach of the Abbotsford Canucks, was entertaining outside opportunities at the NHL level.
Reportedly, the Canucks had offered Colliton a contract extension but were unable to find a mutual dollar figure that made sense for the two sides.
Unfortunately, this situation simply underscores the reality of having strong coaching within your minor league system. Eventually, they often seek higher roles in terms of responsibility and compensation.
While he may have never coached the baby Canucks past the semi-finals, Colliton’s two-year tenure was considered successful within the organization and his vision felt in line with what the big club had in mind. While it wasn’t perfect, he played the hand he was dealt, or in this case, the roster, and squeezed the most out of it.
The fact that he has been receiving NHL auditions tells you everything you need to know.
With uncertainty looming behind the bench and a strong focus on maintaining their organizational focus heading into a big off-season, the Canucks had to act swiftly.
And that they did.
The Canucks wasted no time in filling the coaching void as they capitalized on a beneficial situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who recently let go of their head coach, Sheldon Keefe, just a few weeks prior.
“It started about a week and a half ago,” Malhotra told Satiar Shah and Dan Riccio on Sportsnet 650. “The Canucks requested permission to talk to me about this position. Speaking with Ryan Johnson over the next few days, we discussed what this opportunity would look like.”
Malhotra, 44, needs no introduction in Vancouver.
He was an essential piece to the Canucks’ 2011 team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. He also worked in a development role from 2016-17 and served as an assistant coach from 2017-2020.
He knows the organization. He knows the province. He knows the fan base.
Now, he’s in charge of spearheading the organization’s development efforts.
“Getting the chance to help develop the next wave of young talent is an honour and a privilege,” Malhotra said in a team press release. “We have a lot of good prospects, and I can’t wait to get started. I’d also like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs for the opportunity to work with them over the past four years.”
The move also made sense from a family perspective, as his son Caleb recently committed with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL.
“One of the negative parts about the coaching in lifestyle is that you got to move to the work,” Malhotra told Sportsnet. “So, with Caleb heading to Chilliwack [and] being that much closer to home makes it obviously a much easier destination for the family to come visit was very appealing as well.”
Malhotra’s seven years of experience as an NHL assistant coach has him well-equipped for the transition into his next challenge. And similar to Rick Tocchet, he emphasized the importance of applying the knowledge he has gained from various coaches throughout his career as an NHL player.
“I’ve learned a lot from really good coaches along the way. So I feel like it’s my time to apply those things and [I am] really looking forward to running my own bench,” he said. “Just a collection over the years, even from my playing days, playing for different coaches and seeing how different organizations were run. You kind of develop this, this mental book, and especially as a coach, you start taking notes more often.”
It’s no secret that the Canucks’ new regime is committed to growing their pipeline as a cohesive unit.
During the team’s recent playoff run, Abbotsford brought up several young players to soak in the pro environment from the press box. While many never saw game action, they practiced, conversed with the team and enjoyed the ins and outs of being an everyday professional hockey player.
In the upcoming year, several young and fresh faces will become full-time members of the roster. So, for the next coach, a focus on development while balancing the creation of strong professional habits was a must.
One of the key challenges for Manny Malhotra will be coaching newly transitioned scorers like Jonathan Lekkerimäki, who may need to adjust their game to fit into the professional league. Malhotra is confident in his ability to establish a structured, team-oriented environment, similar to the approach taken by Rick Tocchet with the Canucks’ main roster.
He believes that a team-first mentality can lead to individual success and emphasizes that when players buy into a structured system and commit to playing the right way, individual production often follows.
“Players want to showcase themselves. They want to put their best foot forward, and they want to produce points. However, when you approach it from a team standpoint, and you have that buy-in, and you have guys committed to playing the right way more often, you’ll find that production happens as a result of that bias.” Malhotra explained.
His coaching philosophy involves putting players in situations where they can succeed and highlighting their talents. This might involve placing a player in a scoring role, a shutdown role, or giving them critical minutes at the end of a game. The goal is to help players find and develop skills they may not have fully tapped into yet.
“A large part of the job of a coaching staff is to help players find that skill set that perhaps they haven’t quite tapped into yet and allow them to grow into it,” Malhotra said.
Over the past few seasons, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin have played instrumental roles for the farm, helping out with development and taking a hands-on approach with the young players. Malhotra wrapped up his Sportsnet interview by sharing his excitement toward working with the twins closely once again.
“They are definitely two big reasons why I’m really excited to be in this role right now. Having the opportunity to work with those two guys again, knowing what they’re capable of and having seen firsthand what they’ve done as players and the way they carry themselves as people, is something that I definitely want to be around again,” Malhotra said.
“But then just hearing their day-to-day operations and how they want to be a part of it, and how they want to help develop this next generation of players, that to me speaks to who they are. That’s just who they are. They want to help in any way possible. And what better way than being on the ice with the guys and teaching them firsthand what it takes to be successful at the next level.”
Bringing in a beloved ex-player and coaching staff is just another net positive to an already beaming resume that’s been building within this new Canucks regime.
With one of the youngest teams in the AHL, Malhtora’s task is not an easy one, but one that Canucks Nation appears ready and willing to give a nice long leash in finding his footing.
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