Four years, two months and 18 days since he last played an NHL game — his career cut short due to a series of concussions – Ryane Clowe appears to have coached his last hockey game.
The Newfoundland Growlers announced Thursday Clowe is stepping down from his position as coach of the ECHL expansion team, effective immediately.
Officially, the reason for Clowe’s resignation is listed as “medical reasons”.
"I was extremely honoured and proud to have held this position, but my health is first priority for both my family and I .” — Ryane Clowe
In fact, it’s lingering concussion issues dating back to 2014 when his 10-year NHL career was cut short.
On Nov. 6, 2014 in St. Louis for a game against the Blues, Clowe, in Year 2 of a five-year free agent contract with the New Jersey Devils, collided with Alex Steen.
He would never play again.
Diagnosed with a concussion, it was at least the fourth of his career, and now, over four years later, he’s still dealing with issues related to the head injuries.
“Yes,” he acknowledged earlier this month following a Growlers game, “it’s a struggle.”
Clowe missed 15 games behind the Growlers’ bench this season dealing with these same “medical issues”, including a stretch of 12 straight games before Christmas.
The loss of Clowe, the Fermeuse boy who is one of the all-time favourites amongst Newfoundland and Labrador hockey faithful, is a damaging blow to the Growlers.
Though he was the coach, Clowe was indeed the face of the franchise.
His signing was big news in town, and now, regrettably, news of his resignation will be equally noteworthy.
“We were honoured to have Ryane serve as the Growlers first head coach in franchise history,” said owner Dean MacDonald, “but, ultimately, Ryane’s health is a priority, to not only him, but the entire organization.”
In a statement, Clowe said: “I’d like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs for the opportunity to become the first head coach in Newfoundland Growlers history. As a Newfoundland and Labrador native, I was extremely honoured and proud to have held this position, but my health is first priority for both my family and I.”
The Growlers’ reigns are now being handed to John Snowden, who had been Clowe’s assistant.
Snowden, 37, coached the Growlers in Clowe’s absence. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant/associate coach for the Orlando Solar Bears, who happened to be the Maple Leafs' ECHL affiliate during that stretch.
A native of Everett, Wash., Snowden was a product of the United States National Team Development Program before playing junior hockey in the United States Hockey League.
He then embarked on a pro career that saw him suit up with 15 different teams in four North American circuits — the ECHL and the American, Central and International leagues — as well as putting in a half-season stint in Germany.