Normally around this time of the year, we would be talking about the new group of NTDP players who would be getting ready for their new season. Luke Hughes is one of the big returning names who should land in the top ten in the 2021 NHL Draft. He’s the younger brother of Jack (Devils) and Quinn (Canucks), both NHL players. Instead, we’re talking about a pair of new hires, Dan Muse and Adam Nightingale.
Seth Appert was hired by the Buffalo Sabres to become the head coach of the Rochester Americans. He was expected to lead the U17 team in 2020-21. John Wroblewski was hired by the Los Angeles Kings to become the new head coach of Ontario Reign, their AHL affiliate. He was expected to run the U18 team in 2020-21, so the NTDP had to act fast.
“It’s been a remarkable two weeks and it got very busy, very fast,” said senior director of operations for the NTDP, Scott Monaghan. “We had some great candidates come in and we moved very quickly.”
Muse, was last with the Nashville Predators as an assistant but was quick to point out how much experience he has. He will run the U18 team.
“I worked in a lot of different leagues at a lot of different levels.”
Nightingale, most recently an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, got to stay local. He will run the U17 team.
“When you look at the age of the kids, we work with an opportunity to share things I went through as a coach and a player.”
Nightingale wants to mold these young players.
“My core belief is we get to impact kids at critical ages.”
Keeping these players engaged may be a challenge. The hard part is the NTDP won’t be playing games for a while since the USHL stated the 2020-21 season is expected to start on November 6th. So, for now, scrimmages and on-ice instruction will be very important.
“I think so much development happens in summertime and kids should be rewarded,” Nightingale stated. “The boys will come in next week with their parents and yesterday I reached out to all the boys,”
Back to his key players. Muse mentioned Hughes, “I talked to him yesterday. I told him I was so happy to be coaching you guys instead of against them. The Hughes is a special family. I’ve only seen games of Luke on tape. It’s a process.”
Luke is a defenseman but don’t compare him to Quinn. Luke is 6-1, 161 pounds so he will be bigger than Quinn. He does have great vision and a high hockey I.Q. and that runs in the family. Moving the puck up the ice quickly and scoring is indeed in his arsenal as well. So far it looks like he will attend Michigan University next year like his brother Quinn did.
This will be an odd season, but the NTDP is trying to keep it normalized and keep their players prepared until the day comes when they can take part in games once again.
Check out my new hockey book Sticks and Stones here. We feature Shayne Gostisbehere in the book!: