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Although the book has closed on the 2021-22 Calder Cup Championship team, a new chapter begins in a metaphorical book of excellence. The Chicago Wolves are primed for a strong 2022-23 campaign, despite the considerable turnover in the offseason.

Ryan Warsofsky is in San Jose, leading scorer and captain Andrew Poturalski is in Seattle, and Josh Leivo has made the roster with the St. Louis Blues after capturing the Calder Cup Playoffs MVP honor. However, turnover be damned, the Wolves still have the ingredients for success.

At the core of that expectation lies the principles, process, and guidance of a new face. After spending four years with the USHL's Chicago Steel as an assistant coach and head coach, Brock Sheahan accepted the Wolves' head coaching position in August of this year. Although both the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Wolves have an expectation and tradition of winning, Sheahan's process complements winning rather than focusing on it.

For the first-year head coach, it's about the process and building something sustainable before focusing on the wins and losses. 

The Journey

Becoming an AHL head coach is certainly an honor for anyone in the coaching profession. But for Brock Sheahan, it was a whirlwind of a process. In fact, he was gearing up for the Chicago Steel's 2022-23 campaign. 

"Honestly, the timing was not ideal. We were literally getting ready for some of our players their optionals, [the Steel] have an optional week for guys," Sheahan explained.

Talk about an important juncture. Nonetheless, Sheahan opted to join the Wolves. The opportunity felt right, and it worked for both him and his family along the way. Plus, the situation stacked up perfectly.

"It was tough, basically once I talked to Darren [Yorke], Don Wadell, Rod Brind'Amour...Seeing the success that Carolina has had, the historical success of Wolves and getting to know the people in that organization, you know?" Sheahan said.

And the chance to get involved with respected NHL and AHL franchises while not moving his family made the move too good to pass up.

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"It's the second-best league in the world and when is this opportunity going to come again to be a head coach?"

Now, a new challenge lies ahead.

Bringing His Style

Coming from the USHL, development has been a staple of Brock Sheahan's coaching style. In fact, this season we'll see much of the same structure in how he runs things at the AHL level with some natural adjustments for the bump in play. 

"I think so much in the game of hockey, people are focused on the end result of winning right? Our focus with the Steel was the opposite of that. We won, but we won as a result of our process and the biggest pieces of that were the focus on individual players and their development," he said of his approach.

Individual focus is a forgotten art for some teams. Winning is an expectation, and when it comes to the Wolves, their track record speaks for itself. However, when the process is executed correctly, something Sheahan strives to bring to the organization, then the wins will come naturally as a result of players reaching their full potential. 

In addition, understanding that every player has different needs is so important in development. When asked about what he thinks the AHL players need most to jump to the NHL level, Sheahan emphasized the individualized approach.

"I think it depends on the guy to be quite honest. Whether it's the way they play inside at contact, whether it's a strength and speed thing, you know, which is more off-ice nutrition. Time, honestly, like getting up to speed with the game, just reps of watching individual video, team video, learning the pro game, footwork for a defenseman, body position, just being on all the time. The consistency with the habits and the reads and the details that they need to have at that level compared to junior, college, American League, to do it at the NHL level."

With development at the forefront of Sheahan's mentality, it seems the Wolves' level of success will only continue to rise year in and year out as they send players to the Hurricanes.

Time for the Test

Brock Sheahan's first season with the Chicago Wolves will be loaded with high expectations. After a magical championship run in 2021-22, the Wolves are still heavy favorites with a number of new faces and veterans to complement another potential championship run.

With a process in place that has yielded success at the USHL level, the Wolves and coach Sheahan have a chance to do something special in 2022-23.