In a bit of news that flew under the rader, only being posted on the FHL transactions page, the Danville Dashers have fired head coach Paul MacLean.
MacLean lasted just 17 games into his first season as Dashers head coach, posting a record of 8-1-8-0 (W-OTW-L-OTL), putting the team in third-place heading into this weekend’s home-and-home series with Carolina.
The Dashers announced that current active defenseman Dustin Henning has been hired as the team’s interim head coach. Henning has appeared in all 17 games for the Dashers this season, posting 2 goals, 12 assists and 13 penalty minutes. The FHL veteran has been in the league since 2011 when he debuted with the Vermont Wild, and has played nearly 150 games with the Dashers over six different stints with the team.
Henning becomes the second player-coach in the FHL this season, joining Port Huron’s Joe Pace Jr., who took over the Prowlers before the start of this season.
The move kind of comes out of nowhere, as MacLean was hired before the season after having previous coaching stops in Port Huron, Dryden, Ontario, Brampton, Ontario, and most recently with the Pelham Panthers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. The move was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time, because MacLean posted a record of just 17-29-1-3 in his final season in Pelham, putting the Panthers in seventh in the nine-team Golden Horseshoe Conference.
The firing likely comes after a slump in recent play by the team, that includes them dropping 7 of 8, and dropping from first-place to third-place. During that 1-7 skid, the Dashers have been outscored 40-17, including a pair of shutouts last weekend against Watertown and Mentor.
In fairness to MacLean, a number of key Dashers had been called up to the SPHL over those eight games, including leading scorer Ryan Marker missing both of last weekend’s games while up in the SPHL.
No mention of the firing has been posted on the Dashers’ Facebook page, the FHL pages, or on the team website or Twitter accounts.