He won't be adding the title officially, and you probably won't see his nameplate on the wall outside the Lynx coaches' office.
But Paul Gamsby is playing the role of assistant coach, at least for the time being.
During four straight long days of practice, Gamsby has been on the ice alongside coach Scott MacPherson, filling the void vacated last week by the departure of Louis Santini.
He also will fill a spot on the bench Friday night for the first time in two-plus seasons, as the Lynx begin another challenging weekend against the mighty Trenton Titans.
"The bottom line is, there are little things that I've seen on the ice, and I felt obligated to go out there and tell the guys and give them constructive criticism," said the 52-year-old Gamsby, who is a member of the University of Michigan hockey hall of fame. "I'm not out there for my health. I want us to be a better hockey team."
As the season-long quest to get things turned around continues after another rough weekend, Gamsby has decided to take a hands-on approach. With losses to Tallahassee and Pee Dee on the road Friday and Saturday, the Lynx's record fell to 9-13-2, which places them last in the Southeast Division and next to last in the 15-team Southern Conference.
And without the benefit of having an assistant coach in the wake of Santini's departure, MacPherson agrees that a second set of eyes on the ice can't hurt.
"He's proven again that he's willing to do anything to help make this team successful in the community," MacPherson said. "He already does everything else for the organization, so it's not a surprise he's willing to don a track suit and help out. A lot of GMs wouldn't venture into this area, but Paul is a good man. He's showing 100 percent support."
Support best describes what Gamsby is trying to accomplish. While MacPherson continues to run the practices, Gamsby has remained in the background, picking and choosing his spots to chime in with his opinions.
"Basically, there's some things I've been watching, little details," Gamsby said. "Scotty runs the practices; all I do is observe different things on the ice and give them ideas."
"Being a hall-of-fame member at Michigan as a hockey player obviously gives him a lot of credibility in the hockey world," MacPherson said. "The guys listen to him and respect him."
Gamsby says he has been paying extra attention to the team's struggling defense corps. The Lynx now rank next to last in the ECHL in defense, allowing 3.92 goals a game.
"There are some little things with the defense, whether it be guys turning the wrong way or having their backs to the play, that I've observed and pointed out," Gamsby said. "They're a better team than they've shown, and I let them know I have confidence in them."
Gamsby also says his presence on the ice shouldn't lead to speculation that he's lost confidence in MacPherson.
"You need a second set of eyes out there, and you can't do it alone to compete at a high level in this league," Gamsby said. "I'm doing this because I want to show them I want to win and that I believe in them."
After a fourth straight two-hour practice - Lynx workouts generally have lasted 60 to 90 minutes - Lynx captain Scott Morrow says Gamsby has helped the team refocus.
"Not only is it having a fresh face in here, but it has helped bring the intensity level back to the team," Morrow said.
MacPherson hopes having Gamsby on the bench during games also will make the players more accountable.
"He is the boss, and having one more guy they really respect and maybe fear will get them going in the right direction," MacPherson said. "If someone misses an assignment, they're going to be coming back to the bench and sitting in front of a guy who can really pull the strings on their life."
And now that it seems unlikely that former assistant coach Ron Filion will be willing to return to the Lynx, Gamsby also isn't ruling out the possibility of finishing out the season on the ice and behind the bench.
Gamsby said he contacted Filion about the opening, but that he was not interested in returning to Augusta this season. Filion, who was a candidate for the Lynx head coaching job over the summer, is working as an ice rink manager in California.
"We have a lot of candidates, but we're going to be very careful," Gamsby said. "It's very tough to hire a coach in the middle of the season."
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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