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Ryan Hardy Hired by Toronto Maple Leafs

06/25/2021, 4:30pm CDT
By Chicago Steel

GENEVA, ILLINOIS — Chicago Steel general manager Ryan Hardy has been hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs to serve as Senior Director of Minor League Operations of the Maple Leafs and General Manager of both the Toronto Marlies, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, and the Newfoundland Growlers, the franchise’s East Coast Hockey League affiliate, announced Friday.

During Hardy’s three-year tenure as General Manager, the Steel compiled a USHL-best 116-39-8-2 record, winning one Clark Cup championship, two Anderson Cups as regular season champions and two Eastern Conference titles.

In his new role for Toronto, Hardy will have complete control over the hockey operations for the Marlies and the Growlers, including roster decisions and staffing.

“I am certainly excited to begin my new role in Toronto but this is definitely a very bittersweet day,” said Hardy. “I have given all of myself to this team over the last three years and I will miss this place tremendously.  I want to thank Larry Robbins and Dan Lehv for the belief they put in me and our ambitious vision three years ago.  I am so grateful to Brock Sheahan and our hockey staff, as well as our support staff, who have and will continue to represent our organization in an exemplary fashion.  I'm grateful for our billet families and our fans, without whom none of this is possible.  Most importantly, I want to express gratitude to all of the young men who have played for the Steel during my tenure.  I am very blessed to have been a part of their lives.  It has been a privilege to watch them grow.”

Hardy, a native of Madison, Conn., joined the Steel prior to the 2018-2019 season and constructed rosters throughout his three-year tenure that left an indelible mark on the United States Hockey League and the junior hockey landscape. In 2019 and 2021 Hardy was voted by his peers as the USHL GM of the Year.

“For three years, Ryan has worked tirelessly and selflessly to build upon a development culture that elevates the skills, opportunities and character of our players, our coaches and our hockey operations professionals,” said Larry Robbins, Chicago Steel Owner.  “I know I speak for every member of the Steel team and family in celebrating Ryan’s accomplishments as a member of the Chicago Steel and in earning the opportunity to pursue his destiny in NHL scouting and player development with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ryan and I are in the process of exploring the logistics of a minority partnership that will keep Ryan part of the Steel family for years to come.”

Chicago possessed the league leader in points in all three seasons of Hardy’s time with the Steel, was the highest-scoring team in the league during the past two years and produced ten NHL Draft selections since the 2018-2019 season.

The Steel had five players from the 2019-2020 roster selected in the 2020 NHL Draft, the most of any independent junior team in the world, and are expected to eclipse that mark in the 2021 NHL Draft (including potential #1 overall pick, defenseman Owen Power), solidifying the franchise as the world’s foremost producer of NHL Draft selections of any independent junior team.

“I expect that it will take a long time for the impact that we have made here to be fully understood,” continued Hardy. “I am certainly proud of the Clark Cup, the Anderson Cups, the Eastern Conference Championships, the league records, the league awards, the NHL Draft picks and all the accolades that we've accumulated, but I am most proud of the way we have done it.  This organization is changing the game of hockey and is set up to continue to do so for years to come.  I am so blessed to have been a part of it.”

Prior to his tenure with Chicago, Hardy’s stops included two seasons as an amateur scout for the Boston Bruins and parts of four seasons from 2013-2017 with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, serving as Director of Player Personnel, Assistant Director of Player Personnel and Regional Scouting Manager during that time.

Hardy joins former Steel head coach Greg Moore as part of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey staff after Moore was hired as the head coach of the Toronto Marlies on December 1, 2019. Steel alumnus Nick Abruzzese was selected by the Maple Leafs in the fourth round (#124 overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft and current Steel forward Joe Miller was chosen in the sixth round (#180 overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft by Toronto.

Hardy will assume his duties with Maple Leafs on July 1.

Assistant General Manager Noëlle Needham will assume the duties of the General Manager while the Steel conduct a comprehensive internal and external search to fill the position.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the 2020-21 season will be the USHL's 19th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league. The USHL had 51 players selected at the 2020 NHL Draft, marking the third-straight season with 50-or-more USHL players selected in the Draft. More than 800 league alumni are currently on NCAA Division I rosters, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.

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