On Tuesday, we introduced you to new Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. If you missed Part I of the Q-and-A with the 32-year-old from Marshfield, Massachusetts, then click here.
Warsofsky isn’t the only new coach headed to Chicago now that the Wolves have partnered with the fast-rising Carolina Hurricanes. Patrick Dwyer, who made his AHL debut with the Wolves in 2005-06 and scored 16 goals, will serve as an assistant coach. Dwyer will be in his second year as an assistant at the AHL level while Bob Nardella stays on for his fourth year as a Wolves assistant.
During Part II of the Q-and-A, Warsofsky digs into some of the nuts and bolts of what Wolves hockey will be during the 2020-21 season and beyond.
How do you and Patrick work together?
“Really well. Patty’s done a really good job. I didn’t know him before we started interviewing guys last year. We hit it off. Because I wanted someone hungry, someone willing to learn and had good communication skills and had played at a high level.
“He’s been awesome. He has grown a ton. He’s done a great job with our penalty kill. Being a forward, it was a transition for him to teach the penalty kill, but he did a great job.
“We have an awesome development staff that you’ll get to see in Sergei Samsonov and Tim Gleason. ‘Sammy’ will help me with the forwards and ‘Glease’ helps Patty with the ‘D.’ And Paul Schonfelder, our goalie development coach, is awesome.
“You’ll see that we’re a pretty tight staff. And I’ve talked to Bob (Nardella), who’ll be included in everything. When we put this staff together _ and ‘Sammy’ and ‘Glease’ were there before me — we wanted to be a tight-knit group because we’re with each other more than we’re with our families during the season. We all get along. We have a great chemistry.”
The last time Wolves fans saw you in person, you were part of the Charlotte clump receiving the Calder Cup at Allstate Arena. Did you get a day with the Cup? And if so, what did you do with it?
“I did get a day with the Cup. So my wife was pregnant throughout the playoffs and that whole summer, so we ended up staying in Charlotte. Where we were living had a little common area with a pool. We just took it out there, had a cookout and hung out. Some family came to town and we had some friends over. My son (Cal) had just been born, so we put him in the Cup. It was a fun little time. It was a fun year.”
What style will the Wolves play this year?
“Our structure is pretty identical to what they do in Carolina. For me as a coach, I don’t want to sound like a cliché, I think every coach says these same things, but we will be the hardest-working team in the league. Teams are going to leave our building — or we’re going to leave a team after playing in their building — and we want them to leave that building saying, win or lose, ‘Wow, that was a tough team to play against.’
“That’s going to be something that we pride ourselves on. Ultimately, we’re going to be hard to play against because of how hard we work. We’re going to play with good details and good structure. I think everyone talks about playing fast — that’s kind of the newer style the last 5-6 years. You want to have a lot of skill, but we want to transition quickly and play some offense. You see it now in the Stanley Cup Final: the teams that defend the best give yourselves a chance to win. We’re going to pride ourselves on defending the right way.
“At the same time, when you put all that together, we think we have a good plan to develop our players. We saw that a little bit this year. We made some changes when I became the head coach. Nothing drastic, but we want to put a lot of emphasis into how we play and how we develop our players. We have a detailed plan. Jake Bean is chomping at the bit. He’s right on the verge of playing in the National Hockey League. Morgan Geekie. Steven Lorentz is almost there. We have some players who came a long way this past year.”
What have you been doing since mid-March when COVID-19 shut down the season?
“I’ve been trying to stay busy. We’ve done a lot. I’ve helped out Carolina looking at draft prospects. Carolina was doing conference calls three times a week talking about players and other teams. I did a thorough dissection of our season: What we could have changed. What we liked. What we didn’t like. We’ve gone through practices and made day-to-day plans. Watched video on a lot of players. We’re in the process of putting some development stuff together, just so we’re ready for training camp.
“It’s funny. I was talking with Patty Dwyer the other day. I’m ready to get going. I’m sick of watching video. You just try to find more homework and stay busy and get prepared. I’m working with Carolina and with (Wolves general manager) Wendell (Young) on guys we might want to sign for Chicago.
“Just trying to stay ahead of the curve, so when we get going we’re prepared for it.”
Now it’s time for the lightning round. What’s your favorite food or foods?
Aw, we were hoping for a Boston stereotype like “chow-dah” or some other seafood.
“No, I’m a big steak guy — well-done. People are going to harass me for that, they always do. But my dad was like that, so that’s how I like my steak.”
Favorite sport other than hockey?
“Baseball. I was a pretty big baseball player. I was probably better at baseball than hockey. I don’t know if a lot of people know that. I went to prep school at Cushing Academy and played hockey and baseball. I got recruited by some schools for baseball. But ultimately I knew I wanted to work in hockey, so I figured I should probably play hockey in college. I figured I would have a better chance.
What was your skill set in baseball? What were your tools?
“I was a first baseman and third baseman. Kind of a power hitter, I guess you could say. I loved baseball growing up. At Cushing we had a really good baseball team and a good first baseman, so I moved to third. I liked it. You got a little more action at the hot corner. I actually came up as a catcher, but all that crouching became a lot of work (laughs).”
If you have time for them, what are your favorite hobbies?
“Golf. I’ve started picking up some fishing again this summer. My family has a house over in Martha’s Vineyard, so we have a boat over there. I’ve been getting into the fishing.
“I don’t know. Hockey’s kind of my life. Hanging out with my family. My three brothers are all married and they all have kids, so we like to get together. Every time we do, it ultimately turns into a game of some sort. But we love hanging out on a Saturday and getting a barbecue going.”
Are all the brothers in the greater Boston area?
“My two older brothers are, but my younger brother lives in Denver.”