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December 24, 2014 by astewart


Those who dabble in multiple tasks are often told, “stick to your day job.”

The challenge for Pat Malloy is to determine just which one of his occupations is the day job. The candidates:

  • General manager and associate coach of the CCHL Pembroke Lumber Kings.
  • Director of Hockey at the Peak Centre for Human Performance at the Bell Sensplex.
  • Program co-ordinator at the Peak Centre Academy, a Sensplex school for hockey players in grades 5-10.
  • Skating coach for the NHL Buffalo Sabres.

We can guess which job has Malloy and his Peak students excited this fall – his recent appointment with the Sabres. The long-time skating and skills coach with Peak and a familiar coach in Ottawa AAA hockey and the CCHL, was hired by the Sabres in late October and made his first trip to work with the Sabres AHL farm team in Rochester in November.

It was a dream to get to the NHL in the first place and I just want to continue to build and develop that avenue,” Malloy says.

He had heard the Sabres might be looking for a skating coach for their prospects and sent in a resume. While Malloy had never met new Sabres general manager Tim Murray, the former Ottawa Senators assistant GM, Malloy worked “right under the nose” of Senators staff at the Sensplex for many years. He reports to Sabres player development co-ordinator Jason Long.

It didn’t hurt Malloy’s chances with Buffalo that a player like Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings, one of Malloy’s star skating pupils, delivered a reference on his behalf. So did Ryan Spooner of the Boston Bruins, Malloy’s first individual skating client. Malloy still sees Toffoli and Spooner every off-season, along with other NHLers who hear about Malloy by word of mouth.

One of Malloy’s more pleasant phone calls this past summer: Toffoli on the line, inviting Malloy out to a July 3 Carleton Place party with the Stanley Cup. Toffoli and the Kings, of course, won the Cup in June. Toffoli didn’t forget the role Malloy played in helping develop him from a high-scoring, if not exactly fleet-of-foot, junior with the Ottawa 67’s into a strong skater. Toffoli, who blossomed in Los Angeles playoff runs, leads the Kings in scoring this season.

Those are the things you remember,” Malloy says, of posing with the Cup and Toffoli. “He was once just a young guy coming out and asking for help.”

Skating and getting in better shape are the two things I need to work on,” Toffoli told me back in July of 2011, during a training session in Kanata. Toffoli first went to Malloy in 2010, after his second OHL season. He scored 37 goals that year, before the Kings picked him in the second round of the 2010 draft, then became a 57-goal scorer in 2010-11.

Pat Malloy, the new Buffalo Sabres skating coach and GM of the Pembroke Lumber Kings,  far right, takes at look at the skating technique of Peak Centre Academy students at the Bell Sensplex in Kanata.
Pat Malloy, the new Buffalo Sabres skating coach and GM of the Pembroke Lumber Kings, far right, takes at look at the skating technique of Peak Centre Academy students at the Bell Sensplex in Kanata.

Darren Brown / Ottawa Citizen

Each player presents a different challenge to a skating coach like Malloy. Spooner, a prolific scorer in minor midget AAA hockey with the Ottawa Senators, “just loves the ice,” as Malloy says, and could skate all day.

Malloy has worked with Spooner, who is currently with the AHL Providence Bruins, on explosive skating, and using his feet to gain puck possession.

He’s not the biggest guy, so you don’t want him in the trenches all afternoon, you want him to get in and get the puck to an area where he can do something good with it.”

Toffoli’s early work was on improving his stride and weight distribution.

Unlike some skating coaches who separate skating precision and edging from the rest of the game, Malloy favours a “whole game” approach.

I guess I’m just one of those skating coaches that believes that once your base is built, as you progress with your skating, puck skills have to follow,” Malloy says. “I’ve always approached it that the two have to be married together.”

Like a golf swing, hockey has technical aspects that can be improved upon, regardless of a player’s talent.

Some of the other NHL players who have come out to the Sensplex in recent summers for skating tips: Carp’s Calvin de Haan (New York Islanders), former Senators centre Chris Kelly (Boston Bruins), Gatineau’s Derick Brassard (New York Rangers), Senators defenceman Marc Methot, although Methot’s hip/back injury kept him from skating much this past summer.

For whatever reason, Ottawa has become a bit of a hotbed for hockey and skating instruction. Malloy is one of three local skate coaches to have worked for NHL clubs in recent seasons. Marc Power remains the Senators skating consultant and Shawn Allard was with the Nashville Predators until their off-season coaching change.


Considering his various hockey jobs, Malloy manages time, as well as talent. Each morning, he’s on the ice teaching the Peak Academy students, and most afternoons he helps out at the Lumber Kings practice. As an associate coach, it’s “not the end of the world” if he can’t make it. He conducts his GM work with the Lumber Kings from his Sensplex office.

Malloy grew up in Pembroke, still has family there and understands the aura of the Lumber Kings tradition. So, this job, too, was the realization of a dream.

If the the Sabres position were to grow to the point where he had to alter his work demands here, he would. At the moment, it helps that the Peak clinics, camps, and off-season NHL player work is mostly in the summer, while the Peak Academy is a fall and winter school.

As for the Sabres, he is at their service, as required. After receiving good feedback from his first visit, his next trip to Rochester, and possibly Buffalo, too, will be longer than his initial foray and will take place in the New Year.

Under Tim Murray, the Sabres are undergoing a massive rebuild (although that was hard to tell in their Dec. 15 5-4 shootout victory over the Senators), based on player development, which is music to Malloy’s ears.

Malloy says there is tremendous enthusiasm throughout the organization about building players and getting better.

As a development person,” Malloy says, “that’s exciting.”


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