Two years ago he was a key component on a Bruins coaching staff that earned head man Claude Julien the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL coach of the year.
In 2009-10, he orchestrated a penalty kill that led the league in efficiency most of the season and finished third overall.
Now there’s a chance Craig Ramsay might parlay his recent success with Boston into another chance to be an NHL head coach.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ramsay has interviewed with Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley. Ramsay and Dudley have a past relationship from Tampa Bay, where Dudley was once GM and Ramsay was an assistant coach.
Ramsay, a veteran of more than 1,000 NHL games as a player, has previously briefly been a head coach with Buffalo and Philadelphia. Florida and Ottawa have been other landing spots as an assistant coach. A Selke Trophy-winning forward for the Sabres in 1984-85, Ramsay has run the Bruins’ defense since coming on board with Julien and has also handled most of the penalty-kill game-planning.
Losing Ramsay would be a compliment to the Bruins’ staff and the 59-year-old, but it would also leave a glaring hole. The Bruins’ penalty kill figures to undergo a major overhaul next season, with center Steve Begin probably leaving as a free agent, wingers Blake Wheeler and Daniel Paille (both restricted agents) up in the air in terms of their status and winger Marco Sturm set to miss half the year with injury.
Over the course of the last two seasons, Ramsay has done a great job of mixing and matching until he and Julien have found solid pairs to make sure the Bruins have been a top penalty-killing team. They finished 12th in 2008-09.
“It’s just typical of the team the whole year,” said winger Mark Recchi during the Bruins’ impressive showing with 19 kills in 19 opportunities in the first round of this spring’s playoffs against Buffalo. “[Ramsay] has a great structure and the guys really believe in it. The guys play desperate and it can make a difference.”
Ramsay also worked hard with all the defensemen during and after practices. And often entertaining portion of the Bruins’ post-practice workouts is Zdeno Chara’s attempts to keep the puck away from the pressuring stick of the former Selke winner.
If Ramsay left, “eye in the sky” Doug Houda would be a candidate to move down to the bench, while Providence coaches Rob Murray and Bruce Cassidy be candidates to the join the parent club’s staff. Maybe the Bruins would also pursue an assistant with a more offensive bent considering their struggles scoring last season.