SAN JOSE, Calif. — If you grew up following the NHL in the 1990s or 2000s, chances are you remember watching Todd Marchant play.
The center best known for his time with the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks was a staple of the NHL, having played in close to 1,200 games. But after the 39-year-old from Buffalo, N.Y. stepped away from the ice following the 2010-11 season, he needed something to occupy his time.
He took a job in the front office of the Anaheim Ducks as director of player development, which he still maintains. But he missed the rinks and the feel of the game, so in addition to his executive role, he took over as coach of the Anaheim Lady Ducks Tier I 14-and-Under team.
Under his guidance, the Lady Ducks have made it to the USA Hockey National Championships this week in San Jose, and after three days of preliminary-round play they were 2-1 and scheduled to meet the New Jersey Colonials in a quarterfinal game on Saturday.
Baylee Trani leads the Lady Ducks with four goals, including two winners, so far in the tournament. Goalie Kai-Lilly Karpman boasts a 0.50 goals-against average and a .976 save percentage while minding the net for 95:57 minutes through three games. Her GAA is tied for second in the tournament and her save percentage ranks No. 1.
“The girls are very intelligent — they’re willing to listen and they want to learn,” said Marchant, who tallied 498 career NHL points. “I’m a skills-first type of coach. You learn a lot of life lessons playing the game of hockey — teamwork, determination and hard work — all these different things that you’re going to carry on in life. I try to pass that on to the girls.”
Though there are many great coaches in the tournament, it is hard to match Marchant’s experience.
“The one thing that I try to stress to them is there’s no situation I haven’t seen from a hockey standpoint,” said Marchant, who was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1993. “I try to pass my knowledge onto them and explain to these girls that even at the highest level, at the NHL, these guys go out there and do it for a living, but they have fun playing.”
While winning on the ice is important to Marchant, he brings a different approach to the game than many other coaches.
“There are coaches that want to win at all costs, but I want the girls to have fun and if they win, awesome,” said Marchant, who played college hockey at Clarkson University. “Because at the end of the day, these girls are not going to play the game of hockey for a living, but if they can go on and play in college or if they’re good enough to play in the Olympics for Team USA, that would be amazing. But the most important thing to me is to make them better people.”
Just two years removed from playing in the NHL, Marchant has taken on the task of balancing an NHL executive role with coaching the Lady Ducks. He says it hasn’t been easy, but he’s happy he made the decision to take on both roles.
“I missed [the NHL] trade deadline on Wednesday for the first girls’ game, but [Anaheim Ducks] GM Bob Murray has been very good with me,” Marchant said. “I try to do my work when the girls aren’t playing. It puts a lot more onus on me, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice.”
While Marchant wants the team to have fun, he knows that his club is on the doorstep and wants to bring a medal back to Southern California.
“We’ve taken the next step in our development and progress as a team,” Marchant said. “We are one win away from winning a medal and for a team from Southern California, that’s a huge accomplishment. But you can never be satisfied. Our focus is on our game against New Jersey, hopefully we can play well for three periods and come out with a win.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.