37-year old Mitch Love, who played his minor hockey in Quesnel and grew up in the city, led the Stockton Heat to a Pacific Division record 97 points in his first year behind the bench of the AHL club.
It was Stockton’s first-ever division championship with a record of 45-16-5-2.
But Love says it is the result of a lot of work by a lot of people in the 0rganization.
“It starts with an opportunity to lead this group which was given to me in July by the Calgary Flames organization, and then that trickles down to our operation in Stockton daily with our players, they’re the ones that ultimately have to go out and perform and execute and progress to their end goal which is to play in the National Hockey League. Then it’s the people around them that put them in a position to do that, the equipment staff, athletic staff, and the coaching staff.”
Love says families also play a major role in the success of the team.
Many of the past winners of the AHL coach of the year trophy have went onto the NHL, including John Muckler, Jacques Demers, Marc Crawford, Barry Trotz and Jon Cooper.
“I am obviously aware of the prestige, previous recipients of the award and where they ended up in their careers, and they’ve probably had the same conversation before where they understand they need to grow as a coach and continue to work. I am just going to keep working and my end goal, no different than the players, is hopefully to one day be on an NHL bench.”
Love says for now he’s just going to keep doing what he is doing.
“I enjoy coming to the rink and competing every day and trying to help somebody fulfill their dreams.”
Love joined the Calgary Flames organization after coaching Saskatoon in the Western Hockey League.
He has also been behind the bench for Canada’s World Junior team on two occasions as an assistant coach, winning gold in 2020 and silver in 2021.