Mark Hunter heads home, takes over as GM of London Knights - Canadanewsmedia
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Mark Hunter heads home, takes over as GM of London Knights

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Mark Hunter is leaving the NHL ranks. (Getty)

After losing out on the throne to Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter has, as expected, found a general manager position to call his own following his departure from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Only he’s chosen it in a league that maybe some wouldn’t have expected, however familiar it might be.

The Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, to which Hunter co-owns, announced Friday that the ace scout will return to run hockey operations for the junior hockey giants, bumping incumbent Rob Simpson down into an associate role.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“I am very happy to be back in London,” Hunter said, through team release. “We have a strong group within our organization and I look forward to returning to work with everyone to develop an even stronger team for our fans and for our city and the community.”” data-reactid=”24″>“I am very happy to be back in London,” Hunter said, through team release. “We have a strong group within our organization and I look forward to returning to work with everyone to develop an even stronger team for our fans and for our city and the community.”

Hunter ran hockey operations in London for 14 highly successful seasons before leaving to join the Maple Leafs as a scout in 2014. He served as a key draft resource in Toronto, which selected Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews in consecutive lotteries before his promotion to assistant general manager in August of 2016.

He spent the next two seasons working beside Dubas and under Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello until Shanahan chose his counterpart to succeed Lamoriello at the end of the veteran’s three-year tenure.

Lamoriello was hired to run hockey ops with the New York Islanders shortly after Dubas’s promotion, while Hunter departed without securing an NHL job.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More NHL coverage on Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”28″>More NHL coverage on Yahoo Sports:

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Flames acquire Kerby Rychel for Hunter Shinkaruk in swap of AHL forwards

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CALGARY—The Calgary Flames have acquired forward Kerby Rychel from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for left-wing Hunter Shinkaruk.

Rychel, born in Torrance, Calif., and raised in Tecumseh, Ont., was drafted by Columbus in the first round (19th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.

The 23-year-old had 18 goals and 24 assists last season in 71 American Hockey League games split between Toronto Marlies and the Laval Rocket. He had a goal and an assist in four games with the Canadiens.

Rychel has three goals and 11 assists in 41 career NHL games with Columbus and Montreal.

Shinkaruk had 17 goals and 15 assists in 63 games with the AHL’s Stockton Heat last season.

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Report: Raptors to hire former Spurs assistant video coordinator

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According to sources, and a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Toronto Raptors are planning on hiring Jeremy Castleberry, former assistant video coordinator (not assistant to the video coordinator) for the San Antonio Spurs, as their newest player development coach.

It does not take a genius to connect the dots here, but let’s do it anyway.

The Spurs run a solid professional basketball franchise with a team culture that is seen as the aspirational standard across the NBA. They hire the now 27-year-old Castleberry as their assistant video coordinator in 2013 after he’s finished playing ball at San Diego State. This, as it happens, is the same school at which noted NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard also played his college ball. Prior to that, if you care to go back that far, Leonard and Castleberry even played basketball together in high school. Kawhi’s NBA career began in the 2011-12 season, just a bit before Castleberry joined the team. The two have been together ever since (as ESPN implies here).

Leonard, as you may have heard, has since been traded, and is in fact now a Toronto Raptor (hoo boy). He has one year left on his contract and the Raptors would very much like him to re-sign and remain in Toronto. Since Leonard agitated to have himself traded out of San Antonio, and the Raptors just hired a staffer from San Antonio, it stands to reason — even without reports coming in as such — that the two men, Kawhi and Castleberry, are in fact friends. Why else would Toronto bring in the former assistant video coordinator for the Spurs if not to try to make the situation for Leonard just that much more comfortable? (My point is, Gregg Popovich isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.)

Unlike, say, that time the Raptors signed Chris Bosh’s friend Jarrett Jack to an out-sized contract in a desperate attempt to keep the former All-Star in town, there is no down side here for the Raptors. As we’ve already established, anyone working for the Spurs is likely a decent enough hire — they’re the aspirational standard, remember — and anyone who is friendly with Kawhi only improves the chances he’d like to stick around in Toronto. On top of that, unlike handing out a $20 million contract, this hire is a decision easily undone in the event Leonard does indeed decide to leave Toronto (which to my mind is only growing increasingly unlikely).

There you have it, it’s a win-win-win for the Raptors. Welcome to Toronto, Jeremy Castleberry. You have already become the most significant player development coaching hire since…

I must admit, I’ve lost the line here and can’t even think of a proper comparison to make. Let’s leave this dot unconnected for now.

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Raptors hire Jeremy Castleberry from Spurs

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The Toronto Raptors are making moves to make Kawhi Leonard’s transition to the team a comfortable one.

According to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Raptors have hired former San Antonio Spurs video coordinator Jeremy Castleberry as a player development coach.

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Castleberry may be a familiar name, even if he’s still early on in his coaching development. Not only did Castleberry go to San Diego State University where he was a walk-on and a teammate of Leonard, the pair also played together in high school and are childhood friends. Castleberry is also said to have been Leonard’s late-night, early-morning, and offseason workout partnerRamona Shelburne of ESPN calls him one of Leonard’s “closest confidantes” and has been called Leonard’s “best friend” during the player’s dramatic 2017-18 with the Spurs, during which Castleberry was on the staff. A sociology graduate at SDSU, Castleberry has worked as an intern coach and video coordinator with the Spurs since 2013.

Obviously, this move seems aimed at appeasing Leonard and showing him how willing the franchise is to make him happy in Toronto. An earlier Raptors Republic report pegged Leonard’s friend Xavier Thames as being in the city right as he was acquired, and while there’s been no movement on that front, it wouldn’t be entirely a surprise if Thames lands an Exhibit 10 deal or be around the organization (or Raptors 905) in some capacity. The Raptors are leaving no doubt that their intention is to retain Leonard beyond this season, and small concessions like this – if it can even be viewed as that, as Castleberry is likely also very good at his job (which explains why he was still with the Spurs while Leonard was away) – are a good way to show him early on that they can be a long-term home.




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