The Airdrie Thunder will have a new look behind the bench this season.
Darryl Einarson has accepted the position of head coach for the Heritage Junior Hockey League club and will begin evaluating his prospective team during the Thunder’s three-on-three conditioning tournament at Airdrie’s Ron Ebbesen Arena, Aug. 14-15.
“My level of excitement is quite high and I think it’s a pretty good opportunity,” said Einarson, a native of Warden, Man.
“I think my strength is the way I interact with the players. I enjoy coordinating tough practices and these boys will definitely be put through the paces. That’s the way I like to coach. We’re going to be a tough team and we’ll make sure that visiting teams will not enjoy coming to Airdrie.”
Former coach Mike Carlsen left the position to coach midget hockey for the Swiss International School and Education Centre based in Cochrane.
But Frank McEvoy, the Thunder’s president, general manager and director of hockey operations, said the process of finding a new coach on short notice was a quick and quirky process.
“I was looking at Darryl, as he is part owner of the bus company we use, for a marketing and fundraising role,” McEvoy said. “Then when I got talking to him, I realized how much experience he had in coaching, so I ran that idea by him and he said, ‘To be your coach is really what I want to do.’”
Einarson, 52, spent a year away from hockey after completing his latest team position, a two-year stint as the general manager of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Olds Grizzlys. He previously spent five years as head coach and general manager of the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and said he has found renewed interest in returning to the coaching ranks.
“I thought it was time to get back behind the bench,” Einarson said. “I’m completely rejuvenated and I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet and meeting some of the players this weekend.”
The Thunder won its division last year with a 24W-10L-2T record and finished fourth overall in the league. But McEvoy believes the team can do better this season with Einarson directing traffic.
“He’s very hockey knowledgeable and he loves working with the junior age group,” McEvoy said. “I think he’ll bring a lot of experience and a lot of discipline. He likes a physical and aggressive team. I know what I’m looking for in a coach and he fit the bill on all fronts. I think I made the right decision.”
This weekend’s three-on-three conditioning tournament will feature abound 150 players competing in a round-robin format with playoffs to follow.
The Thunder’s main training camp, meanwhile, will open Sept. 6, followed by a home and season opener against the Mountainview Colts of Didsbury on Oct. 1.