TIMMINS - The Timmins Rock have added some Eagle-eyed assistants to their coaching staff for the 2015-16 NOJHL season.
Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne has announced that James Daschuk, Eric Paquette and Marc Bisson will serve as his assistants.
All three were members of the coaching staff of the Timmins Eagles, of the Northern Ontario Bantam ‘AAA’ Hockey League, the past three seasons and played a key role in getting the team ready for the 2015 All-Ontario Bantam ‘AAA’ Championships earlier this spring.
And all three are alumni of the Rock franchise, having played for the squad under Gagne when when it was based in Iroquois Falls and known as the Jr. Eskis.
“These guys are so committed and when they do something they do it 100%,” Gagne said.
“They are involved in hockey. They are involved in baseball. They are involved in soccer.
“They are really, really great individuals and they are going to add so much to our organization and we are happy to have them on board. They are eager to learn and they are eager to teach.”
Gagne feels the fact that Daschuk, Paquette and Bisson have worked together for the past three years will be an asset to the organization.
“We have had a couple of meetings already and I can tell just from those meetings how comfortable they are with each other,” he said.
“They share the same philosophy as I do. It’s all about the kids. They put everything they have into coaching.
“They understand a bit of my philosophy from the days when I was coaching them, even though we have changed a little bit over the years.”
Bisson, who was a goalie during this playing days, will mentor the Rock netminders, but Gagne has not determined yet which of his other two new assistants will work with the blue-liners and which will focus on the forwards.
“We will have to see what works best for bench management,” he said.
The addition of the three former Eagles coaches means that 2014-15 assistant coach and assistant general manager Dan Dube and goaltending coach Steve Hamel will not be back with the team.
“It would have been hard for Dan with the travel and practices being held at 3:30 p.m.,” Gagne said.
“He is a teacher and he works until 3:30 p.m., so it would have been very difficult.
“Dan will be missed. He was very committed and very knowledgeable. Like our three new coaches, he played for me and he understood my philosophy.
“He ran practice and he ran it the way I wanted the program taught. He was really respected by our players.”
Daschuk (41, 13-18-31, 41) was with the organization for parts of the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons and also played in the NOJHL with the Sturgeon Falls Lynx.
“This opportunity is awesome,” Daschuk said.
“The chance to work with the older kids is pretty cool and I am really excited.
“If you had told me when I was 19 that I would one day get a chance to coach with Paul, I would probably have laughed in your face.
“It is not something I would have been thinking about back then, but it is going to be fun. I know how he thinks. He is very respectful, but when he asks for something to be done, he expects it to be done and done the right way.”
Daschuk understands there will be an adjustment making the jump from coaching at the Bantam ‘AAA’ level to Junior ‘A’ hockey.
“In bantam, you are coaching 14-year-old kids and then you step up to Junior ‘A’ where the oldest guys are 20, so there is a six-year gap there,” he said.
“The mentality is a little bit different and their interests in life are a little bit different, too. How they respond to you and how you respond to them will be a little bit of a challenge at first.
“We will have an opportunity to learn a lot during the first couple of weeks and adjust.”
Daschuk feels he, Paquette and Bisson, learned a lot during the past three years with the Eagles.
“It was a pretty big commitment,” he said.
“You are responsible for these kids and they look up to you. You have got to respect them if you want them to respect you. You can’t do anything 50%. If you want the best from them, they are going to expect the best from you, too.”
Daschuk, Paquette and Bisson have not only coached together for the past three years, they have been the best of friends since they were four years old.
“We know each other pretty well and we know what needs to be said,” Daschuk said.
“Sometimes even a look can say a lot.”
Having played for the organization in the past, makes the opportunity to be part of the coaching staff a little more special during the team’s first year back in Timmins.
“Everybody is excited, for sure,” Daschuk said.
“The first year back in Timmins we want to make sure we make a good first impression. I am pretty proud to say I played for the Eskis and I really enjoyed my time with the organization as a player.
“A lot of the people who were with the organization when I played are still here. Paul is still here. Scott Marshall (president of the Rock) is still here.”
Paquette (70, 43-69-112, 156) was with the franchise during its last year as the Timmins Golden Bears (1998-99) and two more (1999-2000 and 2000-01) in Iroquois Falls as a member of the Jr. Eskis. He also played in the NOJHL with the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats and Sturgeon Falls Lynx.
“This is a great opportunity and I am looking forward to it,” he said.
“It is quite interesting how things happen sometimes.”
Paquette feels the familiarity he has with Daschuk and Bisson will be a definite asset to the Rock organization.
“When your coaching staff is on the same page, it just makes things easier for the players,” he said.
Paquette is eager to continue a learning experience that began under Gagne during the player’s second year as a member of the Jr. Eskis.
“I learned a lot playing for Paul,” he said.
“He knows quite a bit about hockey and I think the kids who play for the Rock this year will learn quite a bit from him.”
Paquette isn’t too concerned about making the jump from coaching 14 year olds to coaching players up to 20 years old.
“I think the players will have a little more maturity,” he said.
“I think the players will be able to run their own dressing room and hold themselves accountable.”
As a former players, Paquette was excited to learn about the the team’s return to Timmins — even before he was invited to become a member of the coaching staff.
“It is a great opportunity for fans in Timmins to witness some good hockey,” he said.
“I had a great time playing here and I think the first year will be exciting.”
Bisson was with the Jr. Eskis during the 1999-2000 season and he is excited about the chance to become a member of the Rock’s coaching staff.
“I am really looking forward to the opportunity to work with Paul Gagne,” he said.
“Paul played in the National Hockey League and with the team moving back to Timmins, it is very exciting.”
Bisson is also looking forward to the chance to continue coaching with Daschuk and Paquette.
“We have been coaching together for a while and this is a great opportunity for us,” he said.
As the Rock’s goalie coach, Bisson will have an opportunity to work with Logan Ferrington (928:10, 10-6-0, 0, 3.56, .914), who helped to solidify the goaltending picture for the Abitibi Eskimos in the second half of the 2014-15 regular season.
“Logan had some good games for the Eskimos, so we will be looking to build on that,” Bisson said.
“That will be important, especially if we bring in a younger guy or somebody with less experience. Logan knows the team and he knows the league. He knows how Paul wants him to play.”
The Eagles schedule kept Bisson and his fellow new assistants quite busy during the 2014-15 campaign, but he did get a chance to see Ferrington play a couple of times.
“I am really going to wait until training camp before talking about his style of play or anything like that, but I am really looking forward to meeting him and starting to work with him,” he said.
“You never want to change a goalie’s style. You may want to change some aspects of it, but most goalies — especially at that age — have developed a style they are comfortable with. Everybody plays a little bit differently. Some people go down a little bit quicker. Some people stand a little taller.
“It is only a matter of changing a few small aspects of how they play. You are not looking to reinvent the wheel, or change their style completely.”