Wolves assistant coach Chris Dennis is no stranger to coaching hockey. From the high school level up to the National Hockey League, Dennis has a hefty resume behind the bench. However, the last two years may have been some of Dennis’s most impressive work.
Dennis helped turned around the York University hockey program from last place in 2015 to first place in 2017 during his two-year tenure as the head coach for the Lions. In addition, he won coach of the year in the Ontario Athletic Conference both years. In his final season before he was hired by the Wolves as an assistant coach, the Lions captured the Queens Cup as Ontario Athletic Champions.
Dennis spent 10 years in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, where he worked with such coaches as Hall of Famer Pat Quinn, Paul Maurice (current Winnipeg Jets head coach), Ron Wilson, and Randy Carlyle (current Anaheim Ducks head coach).
Wolves sideline reporter Mark Citron briefly chatted Dennis about some bright aspects of the Wolves game and how he is a natural teacher of the game of hockey.
Q: What got you into coaching and why?
CD: (laughs) “Wow. Well, I was actually a physical education coach and I have a degree in that field, so I was always a teacher. My dad worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs, so I got started doing video work for them.”
Q: You oversee the penalty kill units. The Wolves PK has been one of the most consistent parts of this team right now. What makes an elite penalty kill?
CD: The guys have all bought into our plan and structure. They work extremely hard and their attention to details has made it consistent. Good goaltending and attention to detail make an elite penalty kill, and guys have worked hard to do that.
Q: Tell the fans about new defenseman Kevin Lough and what the fans can expect from him.
CD: “He is able to make plays, has his head up, and joins the rush frequently. (Wednesday) night (against San Diego) he was terrific and we were very happy with his first game.”
Q: If there is one area you want to do improve on with the defense, what is it?
CD: “I think it’s just getting more comfortable getting pucks out of our own zone. We have gotten a lot better lately at it and it showed (Wednesday) night. Communication and talking to one another with elite puck possession is what we are focused on. “
Q: You meet the Cleveland Monsters for two games this weekend.
CD: “Hard-working team that is going to put pressure us when they can. We have to keep our composure and play in their end as much as we can.”