The Chicago Wolves announced Friday that Chris Dennis has been hired as an assistant coach for the 2017-18 season. He is expected to operate the defense for new Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson, who was hired on June 7.
Dennis, 37, spent the last two seasons as the head coach for York University in Toronto, where he took over a last-place program and transformed it into the champions of the 20-team Ontario University Athletics conference. The Lions captured the 2017 Queen’s Cup with a dramatic 4-3 victory on March 11.
“He turned York University around in a short period of time,” Thompson said. “Two years in a row, he won Coach of the Year. His Xs and Os are outstanding and he’s got a lot of experience. He learned under five NHL head coaches during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Prior to taking the job at York, Dennis spent 10 years in the Maple Leafs organization in a variety of roles spanning the tenures of Hall of Famer Pat Quinn, Paul Maurice, Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle. Dennis served as a Maple Leafs assistant coach from 2013-15 and worked as an assistant for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies when they reached the Calder Cup Finals in 2012.
Thompson and Dennis built a relationship last year while coaching for Hockey Canada’s U-17 World Championship team.
“The players were broken into three teams and he was the head coach of one team and I was the assistant coach of another,” Dennis said.
“I had the chance to watch Chris conduct practice sessions and he was terrific,” Thompson said. “He and I hit it off there.”
Dennis and his wife, Melissa, have two sons, Luke and Ryan.