(Taken from the Coquitlam Now)
Candidates narrowed to five in Express coach hunt
Dan Olson, Coquitlam NOW
Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The walls have been painted and boxes unpacked, but the Coquitlam Express are still looking to put a personal stamp on their new home.
The B.C. Hockey League club shifted into its new Poirier Street office on the weekend, across from the construction site that is the Poirier Sports Centre renewal project.
Now comes the fun part.
The hockey club launches its season ticket drive this week, and Express general manager and president Darcy Rota gives a speech tomorrow to the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce. No single act, however, looms larger than the club's hiring of a new head coach.
They fielded inquiries and applications for a month and last week whittled it down to five people -- who all went through the interview process last week.
"We had a lot of great candidates apply, over 30 people sent in their resumes," Rota said of the search that began a month ago. "From Europe, outside the province, a Division 1 college assistant coach -- by the volume and quality of applicants, you can see that it's a coveted job."
The necessary attributes cover the gamut of activities that a junior hockey club undertakes -- from recruiting and developing talent, establishing a winning, entertaining brand of hockey, to being the face of the franchise.
The ownership committee interviewed the top five candidates and are scheduled to meet in the coming days to make a final choice. That choice will set the direction of the franchise as it re-establishes its roots in Coquitlam after five seasons in Burnaby.
"It's a very important decision and all the candidates bring a variety of things to the table," Rota noted.
The Express missed the playoffs for a second straight season, posting an 18-36-6 record under Dave McLellan, who was fired mid-January, and Rota.
And while 16 players are eligible to return, the franchise is aggressively recruiting to raise the skill and competitive level.
As evident by the rosters of the league's top teams, drawing talent from outside of B.C., including an aggressive push in the U.S., is a vital component to being in the playoff mix.
Last year's lineup featured four Americans, including Minnesota native and team scoring leader Garrick Perry, who is eligible to return as a 19 year old.
"You're allowed eight imports and you want to make sure you get quality guys to fill those spots... Recruiting in our league is a huge piece to the puzzle, it's one of the main jobs of a coach," Rota said.
"We have no draft and no protection lists, so our coach has to have good contacts around the Lower Mainland, around B.C. and outside the province."
Teams can't sign new talent officially until the league issues cards in late May, but Rota and team scouts have identified a handful of local players whom they want to add.