The first Head Coach casualty in the AHL came early this year, as Mark Morris of the Manchester Monarchs was informed his contract was not to be renewed.
There was speculation even before this season began that the then new Monarchs GM Rob Blake, had reservations about Morris before handing him a single season contract.
Morris had been coach of the Manchester Monarchs since the 2006–07 season with a relative amount of regular season success and the development of young talent including Jonathan Bernier and Tyler Toffoli.
Under his guidance, the Monarchs won the divisional title in his first year and went all the way to the conference finals before being swept by Hershey. Making the post season in seven of the eight seasons of his tenure, perhaps his only regret would be not having more playoff success as the team would make just one more conference final appearance, with all the other Calder Cup campaigns ending in the first round. The 2013/14 season ended with Manchester topping the Eastern Conference and finishing second in the AHL overall, just a point behind the Texas Stars. A first round exit in four games (1-3) to the Norfolk Admirals must have been bitterly disappointing and it wasn’t long before the axe was wielded.
Morris leaves the Manchester Monarchs as the winningest coach in their history.
So what now for the former AHL defenseman?
He’s well respected in the game and his record at the collegiate and AHL level should serve him well.
I would not be surprised if he wound up as an assistant coach in the NHL or if the Hershey Bears approached him to be their new coach after Mike Haviland moved to pastures new.
The Manchester Monarch’s have not rushed into finding a new coaching staff but rumours are that the front runners at this stage could be found in their ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign.