The Hershey Bears can clinch a berth in the Calder Cup Finals tonight with a win over the Toronto Marlies and if they do, head coach Troy Mann’s tough talk might be one of the reasons.
Following the Bears’ 8-2 drubbing of the Marlies on Wednesday night, Mann had this to say:
“This time of year you’ve got to enjoy it. Enjoy the moment. It’s no cliché, every coach says it: the fourth (win) is always the toughest. But we want to make sure we take their will away and try to come out as hard as we did tonight on Friday night to try to take their will and let them know, ‘Hey, it’s going to be hard to come back. It’s going to be hard to play against us. And at the end of the day maybe the summer vacation starts for them and we move on. That’s the goal here.”
With a win the Bears would complete a sweep of the Marlies and face the Lake Erie Monsters, who completed a sweep of the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night. The Calder Cup Finals have not been in Cleveland since the Barons got there 50 years ago, in 1966.
Mann, 46, is in his second full season as head coach of the Bears and could be on the brink of become an NHL coaching candidate. In his two seasons in Hershey the Bears have gone 89-43-20. Last season the Bears were eliminated in the second round.
Many in the Capitals organization wondered why Mann was passed over the head job in Hershey three years ago when Mark French was replaced with Mike Haviland, who coached the Bears for only one season.
Mann, who had been an assistant under French the previous four seasons, took a job as head coach of the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL and led them to the third round of the playoffs in 2014.
With NHL head coaching jobs still available in Calgary and Anaheim, Mann could join Caps assistant coach Todd Reirden as a candidate for one of those jobs.
Reirden, 44, played two seasons with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in Cincinnati and has spent six years as an NHL assistant (four in Pittsburgh, two in Washington). He drew interest from New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero last summer before Shero hired John Hynes.