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Kingston Frontenacs tap Paul McFarland to be OHL’s youngest head coach

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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McFarland was Oshawa's assistant coach for 2 seasons (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

The Kingston Frontenacs believed they underachieved this season. Their rivals down Highway 401 in Oshawa overachieved, so there's a clear rationale for taking from the competition.

Say whatever you want about what has to go on behind the scenes before an OHL team turns to someone still on the good side of 30 years old to fill a key job. Entrusting Kyle Dubas, who was only 25 on his start date, as its general manager has worked out wonderfully for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who recently won their division for the first time in six seasons. Now it appears Frontenacs GM Doug Gilmour, coming off a stomach-punch playoff loss where a 3-0 series lead evaporated, is turning to 28-year-old Paul McFarland as the club's head coach.

Kingston is introducing its bench boss at 12 noon ET Tuesday.

From Doug Graham (@dougout47)

Gilmour hinted last week that the new coach would be a younger man, probably with an assistant coaching background and familiar with the league. McFarland played in the OHL with Kitchener and Windsor and was on Kitchener's Memorial Cup winning team in 2003.

Gilmour also said he wanted the man replacing Todd Gill, who did not have his contract renewed, to be a strong communicator with the players. [Former Generals GM Jeff] Twohey said McFarland is exactly that.

"He impacted our young players (in Oshawa) tremendously. He has the ability to teach players. He took a young Sam Harding, worked with him so he could play in any defensive situation," Twohey said.

"This is a guy who works hard. He has a passion, a commitment and a respect for the game. I just love the guy." (The Kingston Whig-Standard)

One somewhat rose-coloured way to look at McFarland's relative youth? Teams do try to find talent in untapped markets. His age would probably put some teams' head coaching jobs out of reach, but age is irrelevant if McFarland is accepted by his players and is supported by a good staff and off-ice support. On the second count, former Frontenacs star Keli Corpse, a Brantford, Ont., police officer who has coached in lower-division junior leagues, is rumoured to be hopping aboard as an assistant coach.

On the latter count, the off-ice support, the proof is in whether Kingston can produce a playoff run. That's just the way it is. It's fair to wonder if a tie-in of having a younger hire means having a coach who might be comfortable with having less autonomy over decisions.

McFarland will have to do some teaching since Kingston, after having 11 overages and 19-year-olds this season, will have some fresh faces. If top NHL draft prospect Sam Bennett returns (probably a better than 50/50 shot) and fellow 18-year-olds Roland McKeown and Spencer Watson get a spark from their first pro camps, Kingston's top-end talent in 2014-15 will rate well with anyone's in the OHL. It will have to firm up its depth, which was exposed during that loss to the Peterborough Petes.

Meantime, McFarland moving east after Jeff Twohey's resignation (can you see the air quotes?) makes two people who have left the Generals since their sweep in the Eastern Conference final. The exodus might not be done, either.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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