He was hoping to eventually get another shot at running a team.
"My drive has always been to coach again," McCambridge said Monday.
His wait lasted only one season. On Monday, the New York Rangers announced that McCambridge, 43, had been hired as the sixth head coach in Wolf Pack history. Gernander was fired as Wolf Pack coach last month.
"I obviously hoped that I would be a candidate," McCambridge said. "I had the opportunity to interview with Chris Drury [the Wolf Pack general manager] and Jeff Gorton [the Rangers' GM]. And after that, you keep your fingers crossed that you might be fortunate enough to get the position. I got the call the other day from Chris. I am very excited to be the coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack."
His job will be to improve the fortunes of an organization that has missed the playoffs for the past two seasons. Last year's team had the worst record in the AHL.
"With youth comes excitement," McCambridge said. "The majority of teams across the league are comprised of young prospects. Our job is to develop those players for the parent club. I thought we had a really good group of young prospects, but obviously our record wasn't where we wanted it to be. But again, the energy and excitement that comes from first- and second-year players is something you want when you walk in the dressing room.
"Whatever players Chris and Jeff give us in Hartford are the players we will be excited to work with."
Before coming to Hartford, McCambridge had served five seasons (2011-16) as coach of the Jets' affiliates in St. John's, Newfoundland and Manitoba. During that time he posted a 179-158-23-20 record and guided those teams to two playoff berths.
In his first season, McCambridge helped St. John's finish in first place in the Atlantic Division and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The IceCaps earned 99 points in 2013-14 and advanced to the Calder Cup Finals. In addition, McCambridge served as coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic.
Before becoming the head coach, he served as an assistant with Manitoba for two seasons. In 2009-10, McCambridge worked alongside Rangers associate coach Scott Arniel, who was then coach of the Moose.
"For me, I was excited about the chance to work for an original six [NHL] organization," McCambridge said. "The nature of the business of being a head coach is to understand that there is turnover there. It's part of what you sign up for as coach.
"But when the opportunity presented itself to come to Hartford as an assistant, to have the chance to work with some young players, have more one-on-one time with them and dig in and help them develop, was very appealing to me. I enjoyed my one year as an assistant, even though it likely took me a couple of months to adjust to the role."
McCambridge also spent six seasons with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL (2003-09), serving three seasons as a player/assistant and one season as an assistant after finishing his playing career in 2006-07. He then was coach of the Aces for two seasons.
"My coaching philosophy is to have a team that plays with a lot of structure," McCambridge said. "I want a team that plays with pace and energy. And my expectation is that my teams will have work ethic in place from early in the year. Those are non-negotiable even in practice. ... We are here to get better every day."
McCambridge played 11 seasons in the AHL, ECHL, and IHL. In seven AHL seasons, he had nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points, along with 1,057 penalty minutes in 378 games. In his final season as a player in 2005-06, McCambridge won the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions while serving as the captain of the Alaska Aces.
In addition, McCambridge helped the Kamloops Blazers win the Memorial Cup while playing his final season of junior hockey in 1994-95. He was selected by the Calgary Flames in the eighth round, 201st overall, in the 1994 NHL draft.