Jacksonville Sports Day

ECHL: Ailing Newfoundland Growlers Coach Sidelined Until ‘Further Notice’

Newfoundland Growlers head coach Ryane Clowe is shown on the bench before an ECHL game at Mile One Centre earlier this season. Clowe has missed the Growlers’ last five road games for what the parent Toronto Maple Leafs say are “medical reasons,” and a statement from the Leafs Tuesday would seem to indicate there is a real possibility he won’t be available for three away games in Florida, beginning with a matchup in Jacksonville tonight. — Newfoundland Growlers photo/Jeff Parsons

It’s not likely Newfoundland Growlers coach Ryane Clowe will be re-joining the ECHL team in Florida for a trio of games this week, or anytime soon for that matter.

Reading between the lines in a statement from Clowe’s employer, the Toronto Maple Leafs, it appears the first-time head coach could be on the sidelines for a while.

Clowe missed the final three games of the Growlers’ recent 18-day, eight-game road trip.

He was back behind the bench for four games at Mile One Centre last week, but was absent in the Growlers’ first two road games of a five-game swing, in Reading, Pa., against the Royals Friday and Saturday.

The Growlers play Game 3 of the trip tonight in Jacksonville, Fla., against the Icemen.

A statement issued by the Maple Leafs to The Telegram Tuesday indicates there’s a possibility Clowe might not be back for some time.

“Growlers head coach Ryane Clowe will continue to be on leave for medical reasons until further notice. The health and well-being of our staff and players is first priority within our program, and our focus is on supporting Clowe and the team in whatever manner is needed,” Toronto assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said.

“Assistant coach John Snowden will continue to assume the head coaching duties during this time. The club asks to respect Clowe’s privacy and will not be making any further comment.”

The fact there is no timeline — “until further notice” — could be seen as troubling.

Though the Leafs aren’t confirming anything, it’s widely believed the problems stem from Clowe’s history of concussions.

Prior to his official retirement in September 2015, Clowe missed virtually the entire 2014-15 NHL season with a concussion, at least the fourth of his 10-year NHL career.

And they all came within a two- or three-year period.

Every bit of medical advice told him he was risking his chances at a healthy future — that it was likely the Fermeuse native would suffer another concussion if he continued in the NHL.

Prior to joining the ECHL expansion Growlers for his first head coaching assignment, Clowe worked as an assistant coach on John Hynes’s New Jersey Devils, reportedly without any issues.

However, Clowe has thrust himself into his new position, putting in long hours in his Mile One Centre office.

He got things started by attending with the Maple Leafs’ development camp in June, followed by Toronto’s main training camp, the Toronto Marlies’ AHL camp and finally the Growlers’ camp.

robin.short@thetelegram.com

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