This is the fifth in a series of biographies on the 28 men behind the benches of the ECHL in 2004-05.
Wednesday: Derek Wilkinson of the Charlotte Checkers
The ECHL recently asked each of its 28 coaches a series of six questions.
Here are the answers given by Johnstown’s Toby O’Brien.
Best player you have coached?
Best player who you played with during your career?
Guy Lafleur (training camp with New York Rangers)
What is the toughest ECHL rink for a visiting team?
Toledo Sports Arena
If you weren’t a hockey coach, what profession would you like to try?
Who is the person you admire most?
Your ideal golf foursome would have?
Charlie Holt (former University of New Hampshire Coach and member of the USA Hockey Hall of Fame), Bobby Orr (all-time favorite player) and John Wooden (best coaching mind ever)
Toby O’Brien is in his third season as head coach and director of hockey operations for Johnstown and his ninth season overall, having been the Chiefs general manager and alternate governor from 1996-2002 as well as the first goaltender in team history. In O’Brien’s second season behind the bench in 2003-04, Johnstown set team records for points (97), wins (45), fewest losses (20) and fewest goals allowed (195) while advancing to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the 10th time in team history. O’Brien began his playing career at Union (New York) College and in 1988 he attended training camp with the New York Rangers, who assigned him to Denver of the International Hockey League and eventually Johnstown in the ECHL. Following his playing career, the Sandwich, Massachusetts native moved back to New England where he climbed the coaching ladder in midget, high school, Junior B and Tier II. He captured a regular season and a playoff championship and led the Granite State Stars and the Great Northern Snow Devils to berths in the nationals. He also coached Team Northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) in the Chicago Showcase, a USA Hockey tournament comprised of high school All-American players. A Master level coach in USA Hockey, O’Brien has been involved in the USA Select Program in the Massachusetts, New England and Mid-American Districts, and in August he was the Head Coach of the Mid-American District Select 88 team that competed in the National Junior Olympics Festival in St. Cloud, Minnesota. O’Brien and his wife Maggie, who is a native of Johnstown, have two sons, Ian and Chad.