ECHL Alumni Profile - Bob Woods
The Anaheim Ducks may not have known it at the time, but they were adding a future Hall of Famer to their coaching staff last month.
Bob Woods, who joined the Ducks as an assistant coach under fellow league alum Bruce Boudreau after both were let go by the Capitals organization, was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame yesterday, along with Bill Coffey, Sheldon Gorski, John Marks and Dave Seitz.
Woods is certainly deserving of the honor, having had a prolific career as both as a player and a coach in the ECHL. His 599 games played ranks him sixth all-time, and no defenseman in league history scored more than his 159 goals. As a coach, he led his teams to four consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff berths.
"I played in a lot of great spots and had a lot of good coaches," Woods told ECHL.com last season.
"You try to take a little bit from everybody. I think the big thing is that when I went down there from the AHL, there was the opportunity to play a lot more. When I made the decision to get into coaching, it was definitely a good stepping stone for me. I got some very valuable experience and it's probably a big reason I am where I am today."
The LeRoy, Saskatchewan native enjoyed a 13-year pro career, and spent ten of those years in the ECHL, playing with the Johnstown Chiefs, Hampton Roads Admirals, Mobile Mysticks, Tallahassee Tiger Sharks and Mississippi Sea Wolves. But towards the end of that run as a player, Woods started the transition into the next phase of his career, serving as a player/coach with Mississippi for the last four years of his playing career.
"It really gives you a different aspect, seeing both sides; you see the management side, you see the coaching side and you're still in the locker room with the guys," Woods said.
"It gives you a pretty good visual of how the whole operation works. And I think as a player too, I played forward and D, which again gave me a pretty good understanding of the game and helped lead me to where I am today."
Serving as a player/coach in the ECHL helped him transition to a full-time bench boss with the Sea Wolves beginning with the 2001-02 season.
"The biggest thing is you played with most of the guys that you're coaching, so you go from being a teammate to your guys' coach, and that's probably the biggest transition," he said. "When I went from being an assistant coach in Hershey to a head coach, it's a different role and you've got to kind of make the switch mid-stream."
Woods joined the Bears staff as an assistant prior to the 2005-06 season before being promoted to head coach midway through the 2007-08 campaign after Boudreau was summoned to Washington. The 43-year-old says that his time as a player/coach in the ECHL really set the foundation for being able to progress through the ranks.
"I think I was always a student of the game" Woods said. "I loved to do things right, and I think I always tried to understand why everything was done. When you ask questions and you talk to coaches and you really look into everything, it definitely helps you down the road."
After being unable to reach the NHL as a player, Woods finally got there as a coach as an assistant with the Capitals in 2009-10.
Reaching the game's top level isn't something he took for granted.
"It's very rewarding," he said. "I think when you start from the ground up and work your way up, you have a whole new appreciation for everything that you accomplish, and it makes it that much more rewarding when you finally get there."