Though Derek Laxdal last played for the Maple Leafs in the 1980s, he just can’t seem to get away from the Toronto area.
The 56-year-old is the new coach of the venerable Ontario Hockey League Oshawa Generals. He’s been back to the GTA a few times as assistant coach of the Dallas Stars and as head coach of their farm team, lost the Calder Cup final to Sheldon Keefe’s Toronto Marlies in 2018, a seven-game final.
Laxdal’s modest numbers as a right winger with the Leafs, nine goals in 48 games before a trade to the Islanders, were superseded by his success behind the bench. From the early 2000s, in minor league outposts including Odessa, Texas, Wichita, Kansas, and Idaho, he enjoyed many 40-win seasons, including two ECHL Kelly Cups with the latter.
In his four years with the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings, the native of Stonewall, Man., led the 2014 team to the Memorial Cup. Laxdal becomes the 35th head coach in Gens’ history, replacing Todd Miller, fired late in last year’s sub .500 season.
One of Laxdal’s rivals will be former Leafs assistant Chris Dennis, named head coach of the Kitchener Rangers a few weeks ago.