NEWARK, N.J. | There was no way for Bill Ranford to know during his playing days that he’d become a coach. He couldn’t tell that Adam Oates, a teammate with the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, would join him in that occupation, either.
“It’s hard to tell. For whatever reason, goalies go into TV and your role players become head coaches,” Ranford said Tuesday. “Very rarely do the skill guys become head coaches if you look at it over the long haul.”
Ranford and Oates seem to be in the coaching fraternity for the long haul now; the ex-goaltender is now the Los Angeles Kings’ goaltending coach, while the gifted forward is a New Jersey Devils assistant.
Speaking about Oates, who could be getting looks as a head man this summer, Ranford complimented his power-play talents as a player that have carried over to the coaching realm.
“I haven’t really experienced what it’s like for him as a coach, but I know from a technical standpoint, he was a big part of the power play both in Boston and in Washington,” Ranford said. “That’s some real strong credentials that he’ll bring to a power play for any team.”
Ranford is in his sixth season as goaltending coach with the Kings, a departure from the trend of goaltenders like Kevin Weekes and Jamie McLennan moving into broadcasting with so much success.
The 45-year-old almost got into TV. He took the NHL’s broadcasting seminar and credited a working relationship with CBC producer John Shannon for sparking his interest in going that direction. But Marc Crawford hiring him in Los Angeles changed Ranford’s path.
“I thought I might go that route early on,” he said. “But this is an all right gig. I don’t mind doing it.”
From his spot on the Kings’ staff, Ranford has been able to guide Jonathan Quick’s growth into a Vezina Trophy finalist.
“If you would’ve seen him five years ago, it’s been a big change. He was probably like the way I played early on in my career: all reflex, all athletic,” Ranford said. “He’s learned a lot, he’s calmed his game down. He’s got much more of a technical package. But when he needs to be athletic, I don’t know if there’s anybody better in the game right now.”
During the Stanley Cup Final, Ranford gets another front-row seat for the Martin Brodeur show, as well. Ranford’s prime predated Brodeur’s by a bit, and he wouldn’t teach a young goaltender coming up to play like the Devils netminder.
“Marty played like I played. … I think you look at the top-end goalies in the league are a little bit more of a hybrid than strictly a butterfly. Marty’s one of the last of the dying breed of the complete standup,” Ranford said. “Marty’s strength is his experience and his ability to read releases. That’s what makes him [great].”