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San Jose hands reins to former Calder Cup winner

The San Jose Sharks today named former Calder Cup champion Todd McLellan as the team’s new head coach.

McLellan spent four seasons (2001-05) as head coach of the AHL’s Houston Aeros, leading the team to four consecutive playoff appearances and the 2003 Calder Cup championship. The Aeros posted a 154-111-37-18 mark (.567) under McLellan’s leadership. He also coached in the 2003 and 2004 AHL All-Star Games.

Most recently, McLellan, 40, captured the 2008 Stanley Cup in his third season as an assistant coach under Mike Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings. Over the course of those three seasons, the Red Wings won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s top regular season team twice (2007-08 and 2005-06) and finished second in 2006-07. The team advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2006-07 before falling in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks.

“It’s a very good feeling,” said McLellan. “From the first moment Doug (Wilson, San Jose general manager) called to the moment he offered the job, I felt comfortable. I think the Sharks have done a tremendous job. You don’t get that close to 50 wins for a number of years in a row without a lot of talent. It’s a matter of getting over the hump. There are some real parallels between the Wings and the Sharks.”

A native of Melville, Sask., McLellan played two seasons in the AHL for the Springfield Indians (1987-89).

He becomes the sixth current NHL head coach to have won a Calder Cup as an AHL bench boss, joining Calgary’s Mike Keenan (Rochester, 1983), Nashville’s Barry Trotz (Portland, 1994), Carolina’s Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999), Philadelphia’s John Stevens (Philadelphia, 2005), and Washington’s Bruce Boudreau (Hershey, 2006).