How About Spencer Carbery as a Blackhawks Head Coach Candidate?

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How About Spencer Carbery as a Blackhawks Head Coach Candidate?

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are in the process of two evaluation periods right now: preparing for the 2022 NHL Draft and building the profile of the next head coach of the NHL team.

Earlier this week we profiled Tampa Bay assistant Derek Lalonde, who should be a strong consideration for Chicago GM Kyle Davidson and the group creating that coaching profile. Now, let’s take our eyes north of the border for a candidate who’s enjoyed recent success with the talented team in Toronto: Spencer Carbery.

Youth Leading Youth

Carbery is only 40 years old, but has been a riser in the coaching world in the eyes of many. He played college hockey at St. Norbert and then spent six seasons in the ECHL as a player before making the transition to behind the bench. As a coach, he’s been good at a number of levels.

He was an assistant coach this past season with the Maple Leafs, where he managed the best power play unit in the NHL. When the Leafs announced the hiring, the words used to describe Carbery sound like they would fit a profile for a future Blackhawks’ head coach.

“Spencer possesses a great mind for the game along with the necessary work ethic, energy and communication skills we were looking for,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said in the statement following Carbery’s hiring.

And, like both interim Blackhawks coach Derek King and previously profiled Lalonde, Carbery is bald. So… take that for whatever it’s worth.

Seriously, Carbery’s resume is impressive at a young age. Before joining the Leafs, Carbery was named the AHL Coach of the Year after leading the Hershey Bears (Washington’s AHL affiliate) to the league’s best regular-season record. Hershey was 104-50-9-8 (.658 points percentage) during Carbery’s three seasons as their head coach.

Prior to Hershey, Carbery was a two-time ECHL Coach of the Year winner. He’s served as the head coach for the Providence Bruins (Boston’s AHL affiliate), the South Carolina Stingrays (Hershey’s ECHL affiliate) and the Saginaw Spirit (OHL). His time as a head coach at various levels indicates he understands developing talent, which should also be a key attribute the Blackhawks are looking for in the next head coach.

Climbing the Ranks

When you look around at articles about who the next generation of NHL head coaches will be going back even 2-3 years, Carbery’s name has consistently come up. He’s a riser in the eyes of many, in the NHL and in the media that covers the game at every level.

There may be pause when considering a young coach after the Jeremy Colliton disaster, but Carbery has worked in North America his entire coaching career and was able to fix the glaring issues that had plagued the Leafs’ power play unit in the second half of the 2020-21 season when he took over this season.

We will fully acknowledge that the talent Toronto had on the ice doesn’t compare to what the Blackhawks will be able to provide him; the Leafs have a second unit that would be a top group in many cities that were in the draft lottery this year. But his ability to communicate effectively with superstar-level players like Auston Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander gives is a track record to build upon at the NHL level.

Will Carbery be the next head coach in Chicago? We’ll find out this summer. But if the Blackhawks are looking for a head coach who has worked at a number of levels leading up to his own promotion to the NHL, he could be a strong candidate for them to consider when the profile is built.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab