Devils winger Ryane Clowe announced his unofficial retirement ahead of the 2015-16 season, but New Jersey has found a new spot for the big winger: on the bench as an assistant coach. Clowe, 33, will work under John Hynes and join the Devils coaching staff for the 2016-17 campaign.
Ryane Clowe’s playing days aren’t officially over — he’s still technically a member of the Devils’ roster — but the gritty winger has already moved on to the next phase of his career, accepting a job to step behind the bench with New Jersey coach John Hynes next season.
The Devils announced Tuesday that Clowe, 33, will join Hynes, Geoff Ward, Alain Nasreddine and Chris Terreri as one of New Jersey’s bench bosses for the upcoming campaign. For Clowe, who scored 112 goals and 309 points in 491 NHL games, this won’t be his first foray into coaching. During the 2015-16 season, he spent time working closely with the Devils staff and he told Devils All-Access’ Julie Robenhymer that he spent a brief time coaching in ECHL San Francisco during the 2012-13 lockout.
“We are looking forward to Ryane joining our staff,” said Hynes. “His character, expertise as a player, knowledge of the game and passion to coach will be a benefit for our players and the Devils’ organization.”
Clowe unofficially retired ahead of the 2015-16 season with three years remaining on a five-year, $24.25-million deal he signed with New Jersey in July 2013, according to CapFriendly. At the time he announced he wasn’t fit to play, Clowe said he wasn’t sure what the future would hold for him, knowing only that it wouldn’t be on ice.
“Medically I’m not cleared to play,” Clowe told NorthJersey.com. “I’ve seen various professionals, I guess, over the last couple of years when you go back, but (particularly) since the last injury. I tried to work my way back. Of course, I want to play again, but it just didn’t work out and I wasn’t able to play again. Sure, you want to. It’s just not possible and it won’t be possible moving forward.”
Suffering four successive head injuries that took place over a span of 19 months, Clowe was forced to take a step away from the game in order to preserve his health. Devils GM Ray Shero said Clowe’s contract would be honored by the team with the winger placed on LTIR.
The first of Clowe’s four documented head injuries came in May 2013, which was followed by another in October 2013 that led to a 32-game absence, then a seven-game absence after yet another head injury in April 2014 and finally a career-ending blow in November 2014, which came on what looked like a simple reverse hit.
Clowe said he was thankful to the Devils staff for including him during the 2015-16 season — he missed the entire campaign and instead spent the season working as a coach, scout and in various off-ice roles — but said it was evident his passion was as a coach. Clowe said his recent retirement will give him a unique perspective behind the bench.
“Being a year removed from the game, I have a decent idea of how to relate to the players and what they look for,” Clowe told Robenhymer. “I’m not looking to be anything right away. More or less, I know there’s a learning curve, and it’s about the opportunity to be with this coaching staff…to learn from John Hynes. He really impressed me last year. I’m just really excited about the opportunity to learn from him.”
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.