Following the promotion of Ryan Huska to the National Hockey League, questions surrounded who his successor would be as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat. The answer turned out to be a fairly simple one: his assistant. Huska’s right-hand-man, assistant coach Cail MacLean, has been named the new bench boss in Stockton.
MacLean, 41, is originally from Middleton, Nova Scotia and has had a pretty quick progression in his coaching career.
He played four years with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs, then bounced around minor-pro for 11 seasons. In those 11 seasons, he played for 14 different teams spread across three leagues:
- The American Hockey League’s Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Lowell Lock Monsters, Philadelphia Phantoms, Hershey Bears, Hartford Wolf Pack and Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- The International Hockey League’s Cleveland Lumberjacks, Indianapolis Ice, Michigan K-Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins
- The ECHL’s Jacksonville Lizard Kings, Trenton Titans, Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays
He retired in 2008 and took a gig as assistant coach with the Stingrays, then was promoted to head coach there in 2009 when previous head coach Jared Bednar was hired by the Abbotsford Heat. MacLean made his way to Abbotsford in 2010 (replacing Bednar there), serving two seasons as an assistant under Troy Ward. Following a brief hiatus from coaching pro hockey, the Flames hired him to run their ECHL affiliate in Adirondack. Two years later the Flames sold their interest in that club, but were impressed enough with him to move him to Stockton to work under Huska.
Barely a decade after hanging up his skates, he’s a head coach one level below the NHL.