Chris St-Pierre

For The Community Press

KAPUSKASING – After Alain Comeaus stint as the first head coach of the Kap-Hearst BB Bantam Regional Express came to an end, it was time for the organization to find a new man to conduct the team.

The hiring committee selected former Kapuskasing Flyers head coach Glen Denney to lead this young team. One of the committee members, Sebastien Lessard, explains that his experience and his passion led to his hiring.

“When we got Glen’s resume, we were extremely happy because he is a great coach with a lot of experience, but first and foremost, he’s someone who is passionate about youth development in hockey. He’s an incredible resource in our area,” he explains. “He has a pretty clear vision of what our hockey programs should look like at the regional level. For five or six years, Glen saw a program like the Regional Express in our area. He really was the instigator for this idea of bringing the communities together to offer a top-level development program for elite players. ”

Denney was involved in creating the program about a year and a half ago, and the work done by the staff during the inaugural season contributed to his decision to accept the role.

“A couple of parents had approached and asked if I was interested in doing it. For myself, it really comes down to if I’m going to put in the time, I’m going to put in the time correctly. I’m not going to do carelessly,” says Denney. “(Alain Comeau’s team) built the roadmap. No one knew how it was supposed to work. Their was some paperwork that said ‘let’s go in this direction’ but until you actually go through that process, you don’t know. I think to have the courage and the will to understand that nothing is going to be perfect, that’s where they really deserve a whole bunch of credit. They had a lot of success too. Speaking with all the parents, I asked : what was your experience like? Every single one of them said it was a phenomenal experience.”

The evolution of hockey hasn’t escaped him either. He already coached at Bantam several years ago, but the sport has changed since then.

“I believe I’ve evolved as a coach as time has gone on. Kids and parents are a little different. It really is about understanding what they need, how they understand and how they learn. I’m probably a little more forceful with the older kids, but with this group it’s sort of softer hands and softer voice. At this age, it’s about letting them develop some confidence and just play the game and let them make mistakes. I did the same thing with the Flyers. Winning isn’t the most important thing. It’s not that I like to lose, but it’s really about giving these kids a chance to develop and the only way you develop is by putting them in difficult situations where they know the can make mistakes that will have repercussions.”

The Regional Express currently operates in the Intercité Hyundai League, based in Quebec in the Rouyn-Noranda region. The last time The Community Press wrote about the closure of the Timmins Minor Hockey Association AAA program, we mentioned that ten players favored the North Stars to the Express last year. This was not the case as some local players wore the North Stars’ colors at PeeWee, not Bantam. Furthermore, of those ten players mentioned, those already at the Bantam level were interested in signing up for the Bantam training camp this fall with hopes of making the Timmins team. For the new coach, the closure of the Timmins AAA program will be a good opportunity to add a competitive element to practices.

“It’s going to challenge some kids. I think we have to look at the model and where these kids want to go. I think they want, like every kid, to play at the highest level possible. If we can do something locally that allows these kids to play at home and doesn’t require the same costs or travel, that’s a good thing. […] In the end, once they’re done at the Bantam level, some of these kids will go play Minor Midget, it happens that some take off. But more often than not, these kids are coming to play with their Midget program in Kap. ”

With the influx of local players, Denney expects to coach a young team next season. He however still has to find assistants. Éric Tremblay is one of the people already named to be at his side. The Express remains a program that fuses the sport communities of Kapuskasing and Hearst, so Denney plans to sit down with interested candidates in the neighbouring community in hopes of finding staff.

Returning to the starting line, Sebastien Lessard says there is a notoriety associated with the name of Glen Denney, which could convince players from outside the region to join the program.