Toronto Maple Leafs hire Paul McFarland as assistant coach

Toronto Maple Leafs Scotiabank Arena (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Toronto Maple Leafs Scotiabank Arena (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

After losing DJ Smith to the Ottawa Senators earlier in the day, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced the addition of assistant coach Paul McFarland

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Paul McFarland as an assistant coach, the team announced Thursday.

The team has also granted current assistant coach Jim Hiller permission to explore options with other organizations.

McFarland’s hiring was announced on the heels of the Ottawa Senators naming former Leafs assistant DJ Smith as the 14th head coach in franchise history.

The 33-year-old McFarland will bring some fresh ideas to the Maple Leafs’ bench for the 2019-20 campaign.

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He spent four seasons in the CHL split between the Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires before going to Acadia University, where he would finish out his playing career.

Acadia named an award after McFarland that recognizes excellence in athletics, academics, and community involvement.

Two years after his graduation, McFarland would join the Oshawa Generals’ staff as an assistant. He’d spend two years with the Gens before taking over as the head coach for the Kingston Frontenacs.

He’d help the team to the playoffs in all three of his seasons behind the bench, making it to the second round on two of those occasions.

It wouldn’t take McFarland long to make his way to the NHL, as he was hired as an assistant for the Florida Panthers ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.

Over the past two seasons, he’s been in charge of running the power play for the Panthers. Last season, he managed to have the second-best unit in the entire NHL behind the Maple Leafs.

Hiller was brought into the organization when the Leafs hired Mike Babcock ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. A year prior, he’d worked on Babcock’s staff, running the power play for the Detroit Red Wings.

With the Leafs, Hiller ran a power play that was tops in the NHL. However, his use of the second unit was brought into the spotlight during the Leafs’ first-round series with the Boston Bruins.

Smith had been in the headlines as a coaching candidate since the end of the season, and while Hiller hadn’t come up in rumours, many figured that it was the end of the line in Toronto for both after general manager Kyle Dubas announced that Babcock would be returning.

One spot has been filled on the Leafs’ bench but a successor to Smith will need to be named in the coming weeks.

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What do you think of the move? How do you think the Leafs will benefit from having McFarland in the fold? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.