The coach with the most wins in Manchester Monarchs history will be able to add to that win total.
The Monarchs announced Thursday that head coach Mark Morris has been given a one-year contract extension and will be behind the bench for his eighth season. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The deal was delayed because the parent club Los Angeles Kings had to wait to see what happened with Ron Hextall, Kings assistant general manager and Monarchs general manager. Hextall left the organization to join Philadelphia, taking the same role with the Flyers. Rob Blake is the new Kings assistant GM/Monarchs GM.
“It’s a relief,” Morris said from his home in upstate New York. “I know that there were some things that were going on in L.A. regarding Ron’s future and all that. It took a little bit of time, but I’m pleased I’m going to be back in Manchester on familiar turf in an environment that I’ve come to know and appreciate.”
Morris has a regular season record of 290-205-57. He has the most wins in franchise history with 313, including playoffs. After winning the first playoff round in franchise history during the 2006-07 season, Morris has guided the team to the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Final twice, in 2007 and 2010.
Morris has also been integral in guiding the early steps of players that have gone on to success in the NHL such as goalie Jonathan Bernier, Davis Drewiske, Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Andre Loktionov, Alec Martinez, Willie Mitchell, Jordan Nolan, Scott Parse, Stanley Cup MVP goalie Jonathan Quick, Slava Voynov and Kevin Westgarth.
Over half of the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup winning team was coached by Morris at one point in their career.
“We are very pleased with the job Mark has done with our prospects in Manchester over the last seven seasons,” Kings president Dean Lombardi said. “Mark has enriched the talent of our club by understanding the delicate balance between winning in Manchester and developing players to win a Stanley Cup. He is a passionate teacher and an emotional leader who has taught the prospects to be winners and consummate professionals.”
That balance has been handled well by Morris, who always seems to have a young team that plays its best at crunch time. In the past two seasons, the Monarchs have put together strong stretch runs to make the playoffs.
“We do a real good job of fielding a young team and bringing those guys to a level where they can be a part of the success of the NHL team,” Morris said. “I think you only have to look at the last two seasons to see how we came together when the pressure was on to get ourselves into the playoffs and then give the teams that went on to win the Calder Cup fits.”
Morris said he is looking forward to working with Blake.
“I’ve met him a few times and the conversation I had when he got the job was very encouraging. He’s a great communicator,” Morris said. “He’s had a great career and I think his experience working with the NHL prior to this job should prove to be an asset.”
Morris, 55, coached Clarkson University to 10 consecutive 20-plus win seasons during his 14-year career there. Morris led the Golden Knights to a record of 156-42 in 504 regular season games and a playoff record of 39-19-1. His teams appeared in 14 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournaments, five ECAC league championships, three ECAC tournament championships, nine NCAA tournament appearances, one Frozen Four appearance, three quarterfinal appearances, and five first round appearances.