Although the Kings still don’t have a hard date yet for when they can bring prospects back to Los Angeles for offseason training, work is being done behind the scenes to hire a new coach for AHL Ontario. And we have a few updates to pass along.
First off, from what we’ve been able to gather, Jim Montgomery is out of the running. As discussed on a recent Kings of the Podcast episode, he was somebody the Kings thought very highly of in 2017, to the point they tried hiring him as an Assistant Coach under John Stevens. We also previously reported Marco Sturm is not on the short list, as he’ll remain part of the team’s NHL staff.
One other note here to pass along… Marco Sturm will not be the coach of AHL Ontario Reign.
From what I've gathered, the possibility was discussed early on, however all parties felt it best he stay in his current position. https://t.co/i4gAYbYjDD
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) June 27, 2020
We now also have another name to scratch off the list – Craig Johnson, a member of the Kings Development Staff. He was instrumental in preparing Gabe Vilardi for his return to hockey this past season – something Vilardi spoke about at length here – yet, Johnson will remain in his current role rather than take over behind the Reign bench.
Currently, the list of candidates sits at five. In the coming days, we’re told that list will be whittled down to the top two candidates.
One of those five, as recently confirmed by MayorsManor, is John Wroblewski.
UPDATE, August 14 – Wroblewski will be named the next Reign head coach, as early as this weekend.
Who is that, you ask?
Using our popular 10 Tidbits format, here’s a quick primer to bring you up to speed on the man we believe is the top candidate:
1. Wroblewski has been the head coach for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) since 2016. He’s also coached Team USA at the U18 Tournaments in 2016-17 and 2018-19, as well as serving as head coach for Team USA at the U17 Tournaments in 2017-18 and 2019-20. Along the way, his teams won more than 30 consecutive international games dating back to October 2016. One of the Kings top prospects, Alex Turcotte, also played with the Program for two seasons before going to Wisconsin last year.
2. Listed as a right wing, Wroblewski was a member of the inaugural USNTDP team back in 1997. He also played with former Kings prospect David Steckel on the 1998-99 U.S. Junior National Team.
3. He then went on to play four seasons with Notre Dame – wearing a letter for his junior and senior years, as well as being named team MVP his final season with the Fighting Irish. Among his many teammates at Notre Dame was Neil Komadoski Jr., son of former Kings defenseman Neil Komadoski.
4. While wearing No. 23, Wroblewski played for the ECHL Fresno Falcons (2003-07) and was named team captain for the 2005-06 season. One of his teammates with the Falcons was Sam Ftorek, son of former Kings head coach Robbie Ftorek. Another teammate in Fresno was former LA goalie prospect Terry Denike.
5. What sparked his initial interest in hockey? Here’s a little nugget from a 2003 interview – “My brother (Tommy) was six and I was four. My mother told my dad that he needed to find something for my brother to do besides watching TV. My brother said he wanted to play hockey and I just followed him. I’ve been playing ever since.”
6. Began his coaching career as an Assistant Coach with the USNTDP from 2007-10. During that time period, Wroblewski was also frequently an Assistant Coach in international tournaments, including the 2007-08 and 2009-10 U18s. At the later tourney, he had former Kings players Jack Campbell, Derek Forbort, and Nick Shore, as part of a team that claimed the 2010 gold medal.
7. From there, it was back to the ECHL, where Wroblewski spent one season as an Assistant Coach with the Wheeling Nailers before taking over as Head Coach of the Gwinnett Gladiators. Overall, his ECHL record was 122-75-19.
8. From 2013-15, he was with the AHL Rochester Americans – during a period where defenseman Brayden McNabb spent time there, before being acquired by Los Angeles. While in upstate New York, Wroblewski would have also played a hand in developing future NHLers Rasmus Ristolainen, Joel Armia, Nicolas Deslauriers, Johan Larsson, and Sam Reinhart.
9. With the U.S. National program, he oversaw the development of a record number of American born players selected in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft – including Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, Matthew Boldy, Cam York, John Beecher, and Spencer Knight.
10. His musical taste appears to be strong, as Wroblewski is a noted Chris Cornell fan.
Could ‘Robo’ be the next Ontario Reign head coach? We can think of at least one LA Kings prospect who would most likely be in favor of the idea.
Special thank you to Davis Green, who assisted in researching data for this article.
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