Ever since the Windsor Spitfires finished 44-17-4 during the 2021-22 regular season and finished one win shy of going to the franchise’s fourth Memorial Cup appearance, Marc Savard’s name has been rumored for NHL coaching jobs.
He landed one on Friday with the Calgary Flames, who hired him as an Assistant Coach. As The Athletic’s Julian McKenzie reported, Savard will focus on the offense and powerplay.
Through Savard’s two years with the Spitfires, the offense has thrived. In Savard’s first year, the team scored 305 goals which ranked first in the OHL, and just this past year, the offense potted 320 goals which, again, ranked first in the OHL.
As for the powerplay, that was just as potent, converting at a rate of 26.1% in the 2021-22 regular season and converting at a 25.9% rate during the 2022-23 regular season.
However, there is some work to be done on his powerplay tactics, as it converted at a rate below 15% during both playoff runs. Teams adjusted, and so will Savard.
Marc Savard’s Influence on Players
Michael Renwick, Oliver Peer, Chris O’Flaherty, and Matt Maggio all have different paths to where they are now, but one thing they share in common is being coached by Marc Savard, who has left a significant imprint on the player’s careers.
Michael Renwick was brought into the Spitfires organization during the summer of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his first season with the Spitfires was in 2021-22. The bond between Renwick and Savard is special as the two got to know one another pretty quickly.
“Savy was a great players coach. He always made sure the person was doing okay before the player. He really understood what he was dealing with us, younger players, and he always made sure we were having fun.” Former Spitfire D Michael Renwick said when asked about what Savard meant to him. “When it came down to business, Savy was very serious, and he expected a lot from us. It was an absolute pleasure playing for him.”
Oliver Peer, who went undrafted and had two teams to decide. Was it going to be Windsor or was it going to be London? Peer chose Windsor, and it may have been the best decision he’s ever made.
“I’m not surprised he is moving up to the next level. He is a great coach that likes to think outside of the box and be creative. He helped me in all aspects of my game and made me a better player.” Peer said when asked about how Savard helped with his development.
This past season, Peer was looked upon heavily for his scoring touch and his flare for playmaking. He finished last year’s campaign with 67 points in 63 games.
Chris O’Flaherty was just a rookie entering the OHL when it got announced that Marc Savard would be the Spitfires new head coach. O’Flaherty made sure to get as much out of Savard as he could.
“It’s great for Savvy to get hired to Calgary. He helped me understand how to play the game at a higher level. His teachings are still things I think about and work on to this day.” O’Flaherty said. “It was great to learn from a guy that played in the NHL.”
The trade for Matt Maggio may go down as one of the biggest steals we have seen in the OHL. Over the past two years, Marc Savard has unlocked Maggio’s offensive talent. Maggio’s success on the ice has led him to win many league awards, such as the Red Tilson Trophy, which is given out to the Most Outstanding Player, CHL Second All-Star Team, OHL First All-Star Team, and much more.
In 2022, he heard his name get called by the New York Islanders in the fifth round.
“Marc has been an unbelievable coach and mentor over the last two years. He is a coach that does everything to make his players enjoy themselves as much as possible by building genuine connections with every guy,” Maggio said. “He really helped me build myself as a player that attacked the middle of the ice as well as being responsible in my own zone, I can’t thank him enough.”
From what you can read, the fans of Calgary should be very happy with this hire. Could Marc Savard challenge for a head coaching role in a few years? I absolutely think he can.