By MIKE MASTOVICH
During his 13 seasons as a professional hockey coach, Scott Allen has traveled many miles, held many posts and resided in many cities.
But the former Johnstown Chiefs coach won’t mind this latest change of address.
Allen agreed to terms with the NHL’s New York Islanders on Tuesday and will become an assistant coach for another former Chief, Isles head coach Scott Gordon.
“It happened over a period of time. We had talked a few times,” said Allen, who spent the past six seasons as either an assistant or head coach in the AHL. “Probably after the NHL draft a few weeks ago things started to pick up.”
Allen got his start in coaching as an assistant to Johnstown coach Nick Fotiu during the 1996-97 ECHL season. Eventually he was promoted to the top job after Fotiu was fired a day after Christmas in 1997. Allen and former GM Toby O’Brien led a team that had missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons to a 100-95-19 mark with three postseason berths and two playoff series wins in Allen’s final three years as Chiefs head coach.
Overall, he had 144 wins with Johnstown before moving to the AHL in 2002 as an assistant in San Antonio in the Florida Panthers organization.
“Every place I’ve been, the longest I’ve ever been in one place coaching was Johnstown,” said Allen, who has been an assistant coach of the AHL Quad City Flames the past two AHL seasons. “It was difficult when we left Johnstown. It was a tough decision for me because the people I worked with and worked for made it a great situation. The friends that we made in that town still are good friends to this day. Both of my kids were born there. It was a great run.”
Allen, 43, helped Quad City go 36-31-6-7 last season and 74-63-9-14 during the past two years.
After departing Johnstown for San Antonio, Allen served as an assistant coach but also was promoted to the top position at times during each of his two seasons with the Rampage.
During his tenure in Johnstown, the Chiefs had been affiliated with Calgary, which enabled Allen to rejoin the Flames organization in 2004 with the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters. A year later, he remained in the AHL but relocated to Omaha before finally landing in Quad City.
“Scott provides the experience with young players needed to help develop the youth on our team,” Islanders GM Garth Snow said in a news release. “His work ethic and dedication to the sport of hockey are unsurpassed and we are glad he is now part of our team.”
During his 10-year pro career as a player, Allen won back-to-back ECHL titles with Carolina and Greensboro during the early days of the league. He will join another former ECHL standout in Gordon, who led the 1988-89 Chiefs with 18 regular-season wins and spearheaded a trip to the Riley Cup Final as the then five-team league’s top goaltender. Ironically, the Chiefs dropped Game 7 of the championship series to Allen’s team, the Carolina Thunderbirds, in a packed Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
“Scott Gordon and I became friends after we played against each other through a mutual friend and another former Johnstown Chief, Tom Sasso,” Allen said of the former ECHL Rookie of the Year. “We coached against each other when Scott (Gordon) was in Roanoke (in the ECHL). We coached against each other for one year in the American League when I was in Lowell and he was in Providence.
“We stayed in touch, but our paths never crossed again as far as coaching against each other. I was certainly excited about it when Scott and I talked. I didn’t know initially if it would develop into an opportunity. As time started moving on it looked more and more like I was at least going to be able to talk to them about getting a job.”
Allen did more than talk. His resume and reputation also figuratively spoke volumes on his behalf.
“I was very fortunate,” he said.