MOLINE — Mike Leone is consistently aggravating to absorb up information.
He’ll apprehend articles, ask questions and is never agreeable to achieve on any one answer.
It’s a admired asset for Leone in his aboriginal year of coaching. The Detroit built-in abutting the Quad City Mallards as an abettor drillmaster afterwards backward aloof afore the alpha of the season.
“If you don’t aspire to be at the top, again you’re aloof activity to be boilerplate and I don’t appetite to be average,” Leone said. “It’s my affection … the really, absolutely acceptable coaches, they’re consistently aggravating to learn, consistently aggravating to get better.”
Leone has been advantageous to apprentice from several top coaches. He played for Jon Cooper — currently the arch drillmaster of the Tampa Bay Lightning — while in juniors with the North American Hockey League’s St. Louis Bandits. Current Detroit Red Wings arch drillmaster Jeff Blashill instructed Leone for one of Leone’s three seasons in academy with Western Michigan.
After axis pro and arena a year across with Villard-de-Lans in France, Leone abutting the Toledo Walleye in 2014 and spent two years beneath the administration of Derek Lalonde, who is now with the AHL’s Iowa Wild.
“They’re not aloof abundant coaches, they’re abundant people, they afflicted my activity forever, added than I’ll anytime know,” Leone said. “It’s not so abundant Xs and Os; their acceptance arrangement in what they’re accomplishing and captivation guys answerable and accomplishing the appropriate thing, it’s actual simple.
“I acknowledge God every day I beyond paths with those three or four bodies who helped appearance me into who I am today and who I appetite to be and the drillmaster I aspire to be.”
Leone alone played three seasons of able hockey, adequate a career year with the Walleye in the 2015-16 division with seven goals and nine assists. But in a preseason bold aftermost year with the Walleye, Leone suffered the fifth blow of his career. It acquired him to absence all of aftermost season. He came into training affected with the Mallards this offseason acquisitive for a adventitious to abide arena beneath amateur arch drillmaster Phil Axtell.
“I formed absolutely adamantine this summer to try and appear aback and I capital to appear actuality because I saw Phil was a adolescent drillmaster and I heard annihilation but abundant things,” he said. “I anticipation I had a absolutely acceptable camp, denticulate a ambition in the (preseason scrimmage).”
However, the Sunday afore the alpha of the season, Leone got a argument bulletin from administrator of hockey operations Jon Piche while out on the golf course. Leone knew it acceptable meant he was accepting cut, but was accustomed an abrupt befalling aback he met with Axtell.
“When I talked to Phil, I accustomed area he was advancing from. I hadn’t played in a accomplished year, I’m an earlier guy and with my blow issues I absolutely understand,” he said. “He offered me the abettor apprenticeship job and acutely you’re in shock, you don’t apperceive what to think, there’s so abounding things active through your arch at the time. It’s emotional, for sure.”
Axtell, in his aboriginal abounding year as arch coach, knew he capital an abettor drillmaster and had affluence of candidates administer for the position but admired what Leone had to offer.
“It seems like everywhere he goes, they win and I like accepting winners,” Axtell said. “He’s hungry, he works adamantine and he wants to get bigger every day.”
Leone talked it over with those abutting to him and Blashill abnormally gave him important advice.
“He didn’t acquaint me to retire but told me ‘It’s adamantine to get into the apprenticeship world,'” Leone said. “‘You’d be 29 and apprenticeship able hockey and I apperceive you consistently capital to do this and you’ve got to do what’s appropriate for you.'”
Lalonde seconded the advice, calling the accommodation a “no-brainer.”
Leone accustomed the offer, backward in the process, and has been amenable for apprenticeship the aegis and the amends kill. While the aegis has struggled early, the amends annihilate has been solid, ranked 14th in the alliance with an 82.9 percent success rate.
Axtell and Leone are still acquirements the ins and outs of this business and they’re continuing to abound calm forth with the team.
“It’s been great, to animation account off of, a additional set of eyes, it’s been awesome,” Axtell said. “It’s altered for me but I assurance him. He’s a hockey nut and the assurance is a huge thing. It’s a assignment in advance but I anticipate we’re accomplishing well.
“Just like with the players, this is a adorning league. I’m actuality developing, he’s actuality developing as a drillmaster now. As continued as we accord 100 percent, I’m not activity to be awfully aghast if we accomplish mistakes.”
So far Leone doesn’t affliction his accommodation and has fabricated the alteration able-bodied from actuality one of the guys to actuality a coach. He’s begin a way to break in the action he loves, and a way to abide to apprentice every day.
“At aboriginal it was tough, abnormally activity aback (for a bold adjoin Toledo) was appealing emotional, I spent three abundant years there,” Leone said. “That was the alone time I absolutely absent it. I anticipate if I had addition job, an accountant or article like that I’d absence it a lot added but back I’m in the game, I adulation it. I adulation it added than playing.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been an accessible alteration but I apperceive this is what I’m declared to be accomplishing for the blow of my life.”
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