The Newmarket Hurricanes are coming off a better 2012/2013 season than all but one team in the OJHL, yet the club seemed to be in turmoil to start their new fiscal hockey year.
Last season, first year head coach Justin Peca led the Hurricanes all the way to game 7 of the OJHL Finals, where they lost to the league champion St. Michaels Buzzers. While devastating, the Hurricanes organization looked to be on a solid foundation heading into the upcoming season, with many coaches and executives from around the league voicing their admiration for how Peca guided Newmarket in his first year as bench boss.
Fast forward to training camp of the 2013/2014 season, and Peca was nowhere to be found. After some reported disagreements in organizational philosophy between Peca and ownership, the Hurricanes decided to move on, and pursue a new head coach for a vastly new group of players.
Just as Toronto Blue Jays fans were surprised when the club decided to bring back former manager John Gibbons to head the Jays ship in 2013, Newmarket Hurricane fans were also in for a shock when the team announced who they were bringing back to run the Junior A club.
After a year away from the team, the Hurricanes announced at the beginning of the month that they were bringing back former head coach Brian Perrin to head the team this season.
Perrin was fired as head coach following the 2011/2012 season, and replaced by Peca, however after a year away from the game, the Hurricanes “new” bench boss is excited to be back.
“It’s good to be back,” said Perrin. “Hopefully we can get back on track with the way we had everything before we left, and move forward and have some success.”
To get back on track, Perrin will have to get used to, almost, an entirely new roster. Just one full-time player remains from the 2011/2012 season in Ian Farrell, and there are just five players overall coming back from last years squad.
“I think one of things that we have to do, and one of things that we’ve always done in the past, is try to coach to the type of players we have,” said Perrin. “Of course there are things that we would like to do, but if you don’t have a team that can do those things then there’s no point in trying to force it down their throat.”
Joining Perrin behind the bench this year will be his old assistant coaches, Steve Sedore and Kent Hutton, and while Sedore is happy to be working with Perrin once again, he admits that there is a challenge in front of them.
“We’re dealing with a whole new team,” noted Sedore. “We haven’t had any interaction with any of the players here. It’s like us starting from scratch. We have to familiarize ourselves with all the boys, their tendencies, their attitudes, and so on so forth.”
While there are a number of players for the coaching staff to get to know, Perrin is familiar with a select few, including former Kitchener Ranger, Brandon Francisco, and former Hurricane Nic Corric, both of whom are tied for the team lead in scoring through five games.
While Francisco and Coric’s production has been less of a surprise and more of an expectation, Perrin has been impressed with the play of his young core of defensemen thus far, including one young blueliner in particular.
“Through practice, you don’t really get to see how their going to react to game situations, you know puck movement, playing them 1-on-1, and I think that’s been a pleasant surprise” said Perrin. “To follow that up, on defense, I think Christian Dedonato, (born in 1997) has played really well for us, so that’s good to see.”
In addition to his coaching duties, Perrin will also add General Manager to his business card this season, as former Hurricanes G.M. Maurice Catenacci announced shortly after Perrin’s hiring, that he would be stepping down from his role with Newmarket.
“I will be overseeing the coaching transition from (Justin) Peca to Brian Perrin, but unfortunately have made a decision to step down as GM of the Newmarket Hurricanes,” said Catenacci in an email.
Ahead of the Hurricanes home opener against the Oakville Blades on Thursday, Newmarket fans have many reasons to be excited about the team this year, including the fact that the club has started the season 4-1.
Fans will also, no doubt be looking forward to the “new” Brian Perrin era as both a coach and G.M. in which his team will generally bring a high octane, up-tempo style of play to the ice very night. However, Perrin insists that this season isn’t about the man behind the bench, but rather the players on it.
“(This season) has nothing to do with Brian Perrin, it’s about the Newmarket Hurricanes and the kids,” said Perrin. “They just want the support of the fans and the family, and I’m sure if they come out and watch, they’ll see a team that’s going to compete and that’s all I can ask for.”
The Hurricanes will drop the puck of their home opener on Thursday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m.