FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Very few people get to the National Hockey League at any position, but Fort St. John’s Scott Ford is making the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Ford has been through a whirlwind over the last 72 hours. On Tuesday, he was doing his regular duties as assistant coach of the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL. By Wednesday, he had been called up to the Nashville Predators, and by Thursday night, he registered his first victory as an NHL coach.
“It’s been great. There’s been an overwhelming amount of support,” said Ford from Chicago, where his Predators will face off against the Blackhawks tonight. “Tons of people have reached out, and it’s obviously exciting. It was an all-around fun day, but kind of a whirlwind.”
Circumstances surrounding six players and four coaches entering COVID-19 protocol created the opportunity for Ford to be called up to the big leagues. Ford says it’s weird to have a positive spin come from such a negative topic like COVID-19.
“Obviously, the circumstances weren’t great. COVID-19 has had a lot of negativity as far as people’s lives being affected. Not just in sports, but life in general. So, to have some positivity come out of it was unexpected.”
While the situation is strange, Ford’s not complaining. He’s right where he always wanted to be.
“As a player or a coach, at any level, you want to get to the highest level. So you’re working hard and trying to develop yourself, trying to become the best version or best coach you can be. And hopefully, one day you get the opportunity to coach in the NHL.”
One thing that has become commonplace between NHL teams and their AHL affiliates is having the same systems. This makes it easier for a player who gets called up to be able to step right into the game without having to wonder what his role is. Ford says that makes his job as a coach easier too.
“The last couple of years with John Hynes coming into Nashville, our systems, our style of play flows with continuity. We do a lot of the same things structurally, there are tweaks here and there, but as far as broad systems, it’s very similar. It’s a seamless transition for our players, so as far as coaches, it was similar in that regard.”
Ford says it helps that some of the players on the Predators were, at some point in their careers, members of the Milwaukee Admirals, so he’s familiar with everyone.
“Most of the lineup we’ve had in Milwaukee at some point in a development situation, so for me, it was cool to be on this side of it as a coach. Having played with [Mattias] Ekholm and [Roman] Josi, there was that familiarity with the staff and players.”
Ford Finished by saying how much the support from Fort St. John meant to him.
“Say hi to everybody. I’m obviously proud to be born and raised in Fort St. John, and the outpouring of support has been phenomenal.”
After the Friday game in Chicago, the Predators will head to Carolina for a Sunday afternoon game against the Hurricanes.