The Colorado Avalanche have announced Greg Cronin as the new head coach for the AHL’s newest franchise and official affiliate of the Avalanche, the Colorado Eagles. In addition to the hire, Aaron Schneekloth and Ryan Tobler, who were the head and assistant coach for the back-to-back Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles, will remain with the club as assistants to Cronin. Ryan Bach is also staying in Colorado as the goaltending coach.
Cronin, who has a masters degree in business from the University of Maine, has spent the last seven seasons in the NHL as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs under Randy Carlyle and most recently with the New York Islanders under Doug Weight until he was let go in the Lou Lamoriello Purge of Spring 2018. He was promoted to associate coach in his final season in NYI before he was fired. He leaves Long Island/Brooklyn to become a head coach for the first time since he spent six seasons at Northeastern University.
This actually isn’t the first time Cronin has coached in the state of Colorado; he was an assistant at Colorado College from 1990 until 1993. During his playing days, Cronin played right wing for Colby College, also in Maine.
In the official press release, Avs GM Joe Sakic had this to say of the newest member of the organization:
“We feel Greg is the perfect fit to lead the Eagles as they begin their first season in the American Hockey League,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President & General Manager Joe Sakic. “He has an extensive coaching background, including time as a head coach in the AHL. Greg not only has experience coaching players at the NHL and AHL levels, but also developing players at the college level and with the U.S. National Team Development Program.”
An article written by Lighthouse Hockey (The New York Islanders SB Nation site) in 2017 was brought to my attention by MHH writer Skyler Gilbert speculation of Cronin’s hire showed up on Twitter. It is highly critical of Cronin’s comments and results when it comes to advanced information (aka analytics). His Toronto teams were notorious for having atrocious possession numbers and his comments on said numbers were equally as troubling.
The comments below were made in 2013 so take them with a grain of salt. Cronin has been relatively quiet in the five years since and there is a very high chance that his attitude has changed, especially as possession stats have become adopted by the majority of people in the industry (seriously).
Interviewer: You don’t think the Leafs got outpossessed last season, and that shot differentials are not a good indicator of possession?
Greg Cronin: Right. I unequivocally do not believe that.
Interviewer: To be clear, you don’t believe the Leafs were outpossessed last season?
Greg Cronin: Nope.
Avalanche owner Stan Kroeke has made several analytics hires among all of his franchises, especially in hockey with the hiring of Dawson Sprigings (aka @DTMAboutHeart) in 2017. You can find the link to that article here. It would be very out of character if the team hired an anti-analytics coach to train their young players.
However, that hasn’t stopped Isles fans — who are having a banner summer — to keep up their salty ways.
Isles fans are the saltiest group of people i've ever come across. This is a reply to the announcement that a former assistant coach is going to run an AHL team.— Liam Kirk Fan Account (@HardevLad) July 12, 2018
IN COLORADO https://t.co/u9n4TUFvOE
As mentioned above, Schneekloth and Tobler led the Eagles to back-to-back championships last season. With a .698 regular season record and only 12 losses in eight playoff rounds, they have been an integral part of the franchise from the moment they arrived.