Former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Chris Dennis has been selected as the head coach of the York University Lions men’s hockey team. Dennis is the 15th head coach in program history and a York alumnus. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in kinesiology and health science in 2002.
He has served in a number of different roles with the Leafs organization over the past 10 years.
Most recently he was an assistant coach for two seasons, and he has also previously been the team’s video analyst while working on coaching staffs under notable National Hockey League (NHL) head coaches Pat Quinn, Paul Maurice, Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle.
In addition to learning from several top hockey minds, Dennis’s time with the Leafs gave him the opportunity to cultivate numerous contacts in junior and professional hockey, creating a deep network for recruiting. In his numerous roles within the NHL he has developed countless players at the highest level by bringing his attention to detail, his passion for excellence and an unmatched level of professionalism to the process.
“Chris brings a new valuable perspective to the Lions and the CIS with his previous experience at the highest level of hockey. His strong leadership skills and dynamic and engaging personality will be a tremendous asset,” said Jennifer Myers, director of Sport & Recreation at York. “His professional approach and commitment to excellence will change the culture of our program and I am confident he has the knowledge and vision necessary to lead the Lions to the top of the conference.”
While with the Leafs he was also an assistant coach with the Toronto Marlies for their playoff run to the 2012 Calder Cup finals, and in 2014 he was the development camp manager for the annual prospects camp. In addition, he provided administrative assistance to general managers John Ferguson Jr., Cliff Fletcher, Brian Burke and Dave Nonis.
“I am thrilled to be coming back to where I got my start,” Dennis said about his new position. “I believe I bring a level of expertise that I’ve gained through the amount of time I’ve spent with high-level coaches and players. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the team and the players here at York and I am looking forward to working with them.”
“Chris has acquired a lot of hockey knowledge in his time with the Leafs and has seen a lot of high-level hockey, and we are looking forward to learning some of the systems and plays that have been used successfully in the NHL,” said Mark Cross, an assistant captain and four-year member of the Lions. “As an NHL video coach for a number of years, his attention to detail on the technical side of the game is a quality that will definitely benefit our team. We want to be successful this year and we believe that Chris can help us get there.”
Dennis will make his debut behind the bench when the Lions drop the puck on the 2015-16 regular season on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7pm against the Laurier Golden Hawks in Waterloo, Ont.