Mann who recently finished his third season behind the bench of the Senators’ American League affiliate, signed a two-year deal to remain with club.
Remaining with the “BSens” was a no-brainer for Mann and his family, “From my perspective, there never was any doubt that is something that my family and I wanted to happen,” said the 51-year old via a Zoom call Wednesday.
Three years ago this week, Mann signed his first deal with the Senators organization in part due to his brother, Trent being the Head of Amateur Scouting, “Certainly three seasons ago when I was talking to a number of AHL teams, the ability to come to Belleville was intriguing – that was one of the reasons. How many AHL coaches have an opportunity to coach prospects that are drafted by your brother and his staff? That made it intriguing three years ago. I do believe Trent and his staff have a done a tremendous job of drafting. We’ve seen that come to fruition here of the past couple of years. We’ve had a number of guys graduate here recently. There’s another influx coming in. Certainly that makes it a lot of fun and unique at the same time.”
A major reason for the Campbellton, NB native returning to Belleville was a desire to complete some unfinished business, missing out on playoff participation in consecutive seasons for pandemic reasons.
“It was just a matter of time I think I have a lot invested in the last three years, specifically in the last two years in terms of the number of prospects that have come through the door. And certainly this past season was no different,” Mann explained. “I think the organization is in a great spot right now. Obviously, the Sens were improving last year. I just think it’s my job to get to continue to get these guys to Ottawa and to have success and get back to the playoffs.”
Mann told Full Press Hockey, “It’s unfortunate what’s transpired the over the last two seasons. I did feel that two seasons ago – and I’ve been American League 10-11 years now – that was one of the best teams that I’ve been part of in terms of on-ice and off-ice chemistry, so I did think that team had potential to get very deep in the playoffs. I certainly liked this year’s team in terms of progression we made from a week-to-week basis.”
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Belleville’s rise as the season wore on, mirrored that of its parent, Ottawa club. Belleville opened the 2021 campaign earning only two wins in its opening 10 games before finishing third in the AHL’s Canadian Division going 16-8-1 the rest of the way. Their season ended with a loss, but prior to that last game, the team broke a franchise record by winning eight straight.
“I do feel it would’ve been nice to play some sort of playoff format towards the end to challenge our players a little bit more. But I do think our prospects are better for those 35 games. I do think it should make them better players come October in what should be a more challenging year. The season will be played by more teams and it should make them competitive,” added the BSens head coach.
One challenge awaiting Mann and the Senators management team is finding replacements for forwards Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson, and defenseman Olle Alsing, Hubert Labrie who’ve all left to play internationally. Veterans Cody Goloubef and Matthew Peca are also pending UFA’s.
The club did retain centre Clark Bishop who played well in his 13-game stint with Ottawa.
“As much as it is to develop and get (Egor) Sokolov, (Roby) Jarventie, (Lassi) Thomson to Ottawa, it’s also about providing a winning environment for those guys. Our staff will do everything in our power to make that happen. I think this summer is certainly important in terms of replacing veterans that are departing. It’s not abnormal in the AHL for players to depart. It’s one of those situations where you’re very fortunate to get over 50% of your roster back on a year-to-year basis. Now that the contract is in past tense for me, I will certainly be working with the Sens management group to surround our kids with the right people that can help us get to the playoffs.”
“When we hired Troy three summers ago, we knew we were getting someone who had a strong track record in developing players,” said Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. “With where we were as an organization at that time, and with all that has transpired with regards to stockpiling prospects since, the timing could not have been better. Troy has played a vital role in helping with both the development and preparation of countless players, many of whom have recently assumed important roles in Ottawa. We’re pleased to reach an agreement with Troy to see him return to Belleville.”