By Brian Compton
NHL.com Staff Writer
In reality, Cail MacLean has been a coach for the past few years.
Now, it’s simply official.
Refusing to allow the 32-year-old simply walk away after his recent retirement, the South Carolina Stingrays named their former captain an assistant coach Tuesday. MacLean will only be behind the bench for home games as he attempts to secure a degree in Business Administration from Trident Technical College.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” MacLean told NHL.com. “It’s something that I’ve been thinking about the last couple of years and it’s an opportunity that I’m really excited about.”
As are the Stingrays, who were able to work out a deal that will allow MacLean to coach and continue toward his degree simultaneously. Considering his ability to lead as a player, this move is a natural progression for the Middleton, Nova Scotia, native.
“To be honest, he could have had an assistant-coach title last year while playing,” South Carolina coach Jared Bednar said of MacLean, who had 21 goals and 25 assists in 63 games last season. “As a captain, I’ve never had another captain that kind of did the things he did. He just took control of our locker room, which last year was very helpful because of the fact that we didn’t have an assistant coach. I didn’t have to worry about our locker room at all and the little things that a coach has to worry about on a day-to-day basis. He kind of took care of all that. Now it’s just one more step up. It’s only going to help us in the long run.”
Without an assistant coach in South Carolina last season, MacLean knew he’d have added responsibilities within the locker room. Now that he’s Bednar’s right-hand man, the Stingrays are poised to have a successful season.