New crew in Kingston

August 27, 2014

Much is new in Kingston and that is good because what is getting old is that the Frontenacs have not won an Ontario Hockey League playoff series in 16 years.

Kingston was one win away from winning its first playoff series since 1998 last spring only to blow a three-games-to-none lead to the Peterborough Petes and lose Game 7 in overtime — and on home ice, no less.

That first-round meltdown cost former National Hockey League defenceman Todd Gill his job as the Frontenacs head coach.

Thus, with training camps underway this week in all 20 OHL centres, it’s another fresh start in Kingston — thankfully — with 28-year old Paul McFarland as the Frontenacs new bench boss and the well-respected John (The Snake) Goodwin as the top assistant coach.

Kingston represents the latest coaching stop for good guy Goodwin, a former OHL scoring champion with the Soo Greyhounds from the 1980-1981 season.

Goodwin, to be sure, has taken a round-about path to coaching in the OHL.

After working around his full-time position with the Ontario Power Generation to coach the Oshawa Generals for five seasons — two as an assistant and three as the headmaster, ending in 2000 — Goodwin stepped away from the OHL for 13 years.

However, when he retired from OPG in 2013 after 28 years on the job, he returned to the OHL last season as an assistant coach with the North Bay Battalion under Stan Butler.

But being away from family — Goodwin and his wife Joanne own a home in Whitby and their three children live close by — led him to accept the assistant’s job in Kingston after the Frontenacs got permission from the Battalion to talk to him.

Closer to home now — and a grandfather at age 52 — Goodwin represents a safe, trusted and experienced hire under McFarland, who at age 28 is the youngest head coach in the OHL.

And while Kingston has not been the OHL poster child for success as of late, the franchise has been showing signs of resurgence under general manager Doug Gilmour, the former NHL star who has surrounded himself with good people in the Frontenacs hockey department, namely assistant GM Darren Keily and head scout Jeff McKercher.

Keily and McKercher have drafted extremely well for the Frontenacs since forming a tandem in Kingston in 2011.

The latest Keily-McKercher crop, the 2014 draft, yielded bluechip defenceman Reagan O’Grady in the first round and skilled centre Zack Dorval — who scored 48 goals in 75 games and also led the Soo Thunder minor midgets in penalty minutes in 2013-2014 — in the second round.

There are those in the scouting business who rate Kingston’s drafting of O’Grady and Dorval as potentially one of the best top-two selections of 2014.

PHOTO: Kingston used its first pick at the 2014 OHL draft to select bluechip defenceman Reagan O’Grady. (Photo by Kingston Whig-Standard.)

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