John Snowden is making it a habit of sharing the Newfoundland Growlers’ bench with former National Hockey League assistant coaches.
Mount Pearl native and St. John’s resident Darryl Williams is joining the ECHL Growlers on a temporary basis to help out Snowden, officially Newfoundland’s assistant coach, but who has taken the reins of the team in the absence of head coach Ryane Clowe.
Clowe is sidelined indefinitely with what’s been described as “a medical issue.” The Fermeuse native last coached Nov. 10, with Snowden taking over for the last seven contests.
In all, Clowe has missed 10 of 23 games to date for the league-leading Growlers (16-6-1), who continue a homestand tonight and Saturday as they take on the Reading Royals at Mile One Centre.
After concussion issues ended his NHL playing career, Clowe first joined the New Jersey Devils scouting department, then served as an assistant coach in New Jersey for two seasons before taking the job with Newfoundland.
The 50-year-old Williams has a decade’s worth of experience as an NHL assistant coach, working for six years with the Vancouver Canucks (2008-2014), then four more with the New York Rangers (2014-2018) before being let go by the Rangers in April a day after they fired head coach Alain Vigneault.
Williams will have familiarity with his position on the Mile One bench. He was an assistant coach to Real Paiement for the three-year existence of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s St. John’s Fog Devils (2005-2008) before beginning his NHL tenure.
A hard-nosed left-winger as a player, Williams spent a decade in the professional ranks, almost all of it in the minors, averaging about 250 penalty minutes a season with AHL and IHL clubs. But did get into two big-league games with the Los Angeles Kings in 1992-93.
As it stands, Williams’ work with the Growlers will only extend through the current homestand, which concludes with games against the Maine Mariners Tuesday and Wednesday. But with just one road game on Dec. 16 before the holiday break, it would be fair to assume Clowe will remain unavailable until to at least after Christmas.
Nevertheless, Snowden makes it clear Clowe’s stamp remains all over the club.
“I talk to Clowie every day,” said Snowden. “It’s his team. I’m just here doing what needs to be done until he is ready to get back, We talk about what needs to done, things that need to be talked about and of course, I want to make sure he’s doing all right.
“He set the standard, he established the identity of this team. There is no grey areas. Ryane outlined his expectations of what he wanted this team to be on the ice, in the rink, away from the rink and that hasn’t changed.”
What also hasn’t changed is the expansion Growlers’ winning ways. Newfoundland has gone 11-1-1 since the start of November to move to the top of the overall standings in the ECHL.
“The thing is that we have a real tight group. The ship says the course no matter who is here,” said Snowden.
“As a staff, we’ve worked to keep everything on track and the players have done a heck of a job of staying on track.”
Newfoundland defenceman Steffan Leblanc has been called up by the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, meaning the Growlers are said to be considering bringing back rearguard Cody Smith, who was cut (for a second time this season) earlier this week. That would mean veteran Adam Pardy, who hasn’t played since the start of the season because of injury, isn’t deemed ready to play … The Growlers have announced a community partnership with Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand... Led by Newfoundland captain, James Melindy, the team will dedicate a section of seating — “Nevaeh’s Fan Stand” — at Mile One to honour Nevaeh Denine of Goulds and ensure her legacy is never forgotten. Denine, who waged a brave battle against cancer for most of her young life, and dedicated herself to raise money to fight the disease and raise awareness, died earlier this year at the age of nine. Nevaeh had a special love of hockey and she spent many nights at games looking to get on the video board and share a moment with Buddy The Puffin. “For a girl so young to have such an impact on so many lives is truly amazing,” said Melindy, who is also from Goulds.