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What Will Be Key to Marchant’s Success With Sharks?



Credit: AP Photo/Mark Avery

What’s the key to being a Director of Player Development for an NHL team?

According to a source who has experience in that position, it’s more than just a player honing his skills on the ice with a coach.

“Although a good player development program has a big role, it can’t make miracles happen. Drafting properly is still the most important part of whether a player will make it or not. The players still need to have the talent, physical make-up, and desire to be an NHL player,” he told San Jose Hockey Now. “But player development can help leverage a player’s skills while partially filling the gaps that a player may have in his game.”

How about beyond the on-the-ice?

“Communication is a big part of coaching, and therefore, player development. Having a solid director of player development and player development team for the player to learn from, working with them, and being there for the player can help them transition, physically and mentally, from junior or college to pro much easier,” he said. “Just having someone on the NHL side for the kids to talk to is so important.”

I would guess that the San Jose Sharks’ new director of player development Todd Marchant would agree.

“It really starts on the draft day. That’s when we start to communicate, and we use that word a lot because that’s what we do – we communicate with these players,” Marchant told the San Diego Gulls in 2020 about his job as the Director of Player Development for the Anaheim Ducks. “When they get drafted on draft day, we start working with them right away. If they’re at the draft, we’re meeting their families, we’re talking to them, we’re making arrangements for development camp, which usually happens right after and then we bring them into Anaheim for four or five days to show them around. We get to train them, show them how we do things in our organization and then they go off on their own.”

The relationship doesn’t stop there, of course.

The now 48-year-old continued: “Periodically, throughout the year, we go out and see them. We see them play live, on video, we’re talking to them constantly throughout the season, both good and bad. These kids are 18 years old and have a lot of growing to do both on and off the ice. It’s our job to help prepare them for pro hockey, and whether they’re playing in Europe, Juniors or the NCAA, we get out to see them quite often throughout the season. After games, we go down and talk to them, their coaches, advisors and parents.

“It’s kind of like having more kids really. I have kids about that age, so I know how to communicate with them.”

The San Jose Sharks organization will have no shortage of youngsters for Marchant to build a relationship with, as the Sharks continue their “replenish” of the farm system with nine picks in the most recent NHL Draft. And there’s no doubt that GM Mike Grier is happy to have someone as experienced as Marchant to head San Jose’s renewed focus on player development. Marchant has been Anaheim’s director of player development since 2010, until new Ducks GM Pat Verbeek let him go this off-season.

Grier and Marchant were also teammates on the Edmonton Oilers from 1996 to 2002.

“He has a system that works pretty well. He knows what he wants to do. I thought it was a perfect fit for us to have someone who has experience being a director, and then we’ll get some development coaches underneath them, use some of the resources we have in house in Charlie Townsend and Mike Ricci, and I think we’ll be able to form a pretty strong development department,” Grier said about Marchant and his team on Monday.

According to the San Jose Sharks’ website, Ricci will be an assistant coach with an emphasis on development, which doesn’t sound much different than his title as NHL Development Coach in the past two seasons. Ricci traveled with the team, working on skills development with the Sharks’ many youngsters.

Townsend, meanwhile, looks like he might have a somewhat different role. For the past two seasons, he’s been a Hockey Analyst and has focused on analytics as an assistant to Bob Boughner’s coaching staff. Now, he’s a Manager, Player Development & Systems.

And I would guess Marchant will get even more help.

The late Bryan Marchment was a big part of developing San Jose Sharks’ defensemen over the last decade. There’s no obvious in-house candidate right now to work with the Sharks’ young blueliners, unless they’re dipping into the San Jose Barracuda and tapping their new assistant coach Louis Mass for that role.

“It’s been kind of a one-person job with John McCarthy doing it,” Grier said of the Sharks’ player development group. “I think to do it right, you kind of need a bigger staff, to get out and see all the prospects and do it properly.”

Marchant is going to have that.

And it’s going to be his chance to repeat his Anaheim success. It might be hard to quantify how much credit that the Director of Player Development should get for this, but Marchant had an impressive roster of NHL players come up under his watch, Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, Shea Theodore, Hampus Lindholm, John Gibson, Fredrik Anderson, and Cam Fowler, to name a handful.

“Knowledgeable” and “good work ethic” is how a source described Marchant to San Jose Hockey Now.

On the more personal side, another source shared, laughing, “Never saw Todd smile much.”

Hopefully, the Sharks give the no-nonsense Marchant something to smile about in the coming years.

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