Rocky Thompson leaves Chicago Wolves, reportedly to join Sharks coaching staff

The 42-year-old would serve under Bob Boughner as assistant coach.

The San Jose Sharks might be doing a bit of a coaching swap with the Vegas Golden Knights, but it’s not the one you’re probably expecting.

Rocky Thompson, head coach of the AHL Chicago Wolves will be leaving the organization. Jesse Granger of the Athletic first reported that he would be promoted to an NHL club. TSN’s Darren Dreger added on the he would be joining Bob Boughner in San Jose.

It’s worth noting that Dreger might just be making a pretty easy educated guess, as he focuses overwhelming on the Toronto market. When it comes to national hockey writers, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun is typically plugged into what’s going on in San Jose, and he hasn’t acknowledged this report. Local media reports that no decisions have been made about coaching at this time.

So if Rocky Thompson is on Doug Wilson’s radar, who is he?

The 42-year-old played 25 games in the NHL between 1997 and 2002, but the former forward is best known for bringing the Windsor Spitfires all the way to the Memorial Cup in 2017. In just two seasons, he brought that team from the bottom of the standings to a first round exit and then to a Memorial Cup victory.

That summer, he was picked up by the Wolves. Under his coaching staff, the team has gone 113-71-18-11, for a .599 win percentage. The team lost in the Calder Cup Final against the Charlotte Checkers in 2019. He leaves the club (who began play in the 2014-15 season) with the second-most wins as head coach (113) and most playoff wins for a head coach (12).

With his reputation and more than a few teams with coaching staffs that are in flux, it’s possible that San Jose isn’t his only offer, assuming the offer is on the table.

That said, it still seems like Bob Boughner is the main man for the head coaching job in San Jose. While the decision wouldn’t be particularly creative, he’s clearly earned the trust of the locker room. Taking a chance with a new voice as an assistant coach could be just enough of a risk for the organization.

Nothing is certain, but the Sharks could do worse. I’d be interested to see him work with the young offense on the Sharks’ roster, especially if major moves aren’t made in this off-season.