Vancouver Canucks Bring back Manny Malhotra as Development Coach

The Vancouver Canucks were dead last in faceoff-win percentage last season, and they’re looking to a former fan favourite to change that.

The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Manny Malhotra will be returning to the team as a development coach.

Vancouver’s relationship with Malhotra began when he signed with the team ahead of the historic 2010-11 season.

He played primarily a third-line role for the Canucks, and filled a key role on the penalty kill and against opposing team’s top forwards. Malhotra’s prescence also allowed Ryan Kesler to blossom into a more offensive forward, which was a key part of the Canucks’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Malhotra was also incredibly valuable in the face-off circle, winning 61.7 percent of his face-offs, second behind only Dave Steckel. However, that all came crashing down when Malhotra was struck in the eye by a puck in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, which left his career in question. Malhotra was shut down for the season and the playoffs but made a miraculous recovery and returned for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

Malhotra was never the same player after the injury, as his role diminished with Cody Hodgson and later Samuel Pahlsson taking over his role as the Canucks’ third-line centre. Eventually then-GM Mike Gillis placed the forward on the injured reserve a month into the 2012-13 season, fearing for Malhotra’s long-term health. Gillis would later call that decision “the hardest thing he has done in his job”.

Malhotra would play three more seasons split between the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens and the Lake Erie Monsters. After 991 NHL games, where he recorded 295 points, Malhotra decided to hang up the skates.

However, Malhotra wasn’t ready to step away from the game completely, so he reached out to Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins about the possibility of joining the coaching staff.

Malhotra is the franchise leader in faceoff-win percentage as he won 60.6 percent of his faceoffs, and he says that will be a large part of what he brings to the Canucks.

From the official release:

“A lot of my role has to do with the development of the young centremen,” said Malhotra. “Obviously statistically we weren’t that good in the circle last year, so that number has to come up if we want to improve in the standings. Working with the young guys, working with the centremen, teaching them systems and just trying to help out in any way possible is what my role will be.”

When Malhotra returns to the dressing room, he will be greeted by a few familiar faces as Daniel and Henrik Sedin, as well as Jannik Hansen, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev were all apart of the Canucks in Malhotra’s last season with the team.

Malhotra will likely prove to be an invaluable piece of the Canucks coaching staff as he passes down his knowledge to Bo Horvat, Mikael Granlund, Cole Cassels and other Canucks players, and I applaud this move by the Canucks to bring him back into the organization.

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