Blades pro­mote Cum­ming to head coach

Gag­ner, Tiffin added to Blen­heim coach­ing staff for next sea­son in PJHL

The Chatham Daily News - - SPORTS - mmalone@post­media.com MARK MALONE

New head coach Bill Cum­ming says he’s as­sem­bled a win­ning team be­hind the Blen­heim Blades’ bench.

Now he’s ready to do the same on the ice.

Cum­ming was an­nounced Wed­nes­day as the Blades’ new bench boss af­ter be­ing an as­sis­tant coach this past sea­son. He re­places Ken Shine, who was fired last week.

“I en­joyed last year,” Cum­ming said. “Great or­ga­ni­za­tion. (I) was able to put to­gether a great coach­ing staff that I’ll rely on heav­ily be­cause you’re not good un­less you sur­round your­self with good peo­ple.”

He’s hired long­time ‘AAA’ coach Ken Gag­ner as an as­so­ciate coach and for­mer Blades head coach Shawn Tiffin as an as­sis­tant. As­sis­tant coach/trainer Evan Mer­ritt and goalie coach Bino Pereira are also back.

“It’s a great group (and) we’re go­ing to be able to lend ex­pe­ri­ence to these young kids,” Cum­ming said.

He’ll get a look at some prospects Thurs­day when the Blades hold the first of two in­vi­ta­tion-only spring skates at Blen­heim Memo­rial Arena.

The Blades were fourth in the Provin­cial Ju­nior Hockey League’s Sto­bbs Di­vi­sion this sea­son with a 24-14-2 record. They’ve made four straight trips to the semi­fi­nals but haven’t been able to reach the fi­nal.

With sev­eral key play­ers el­i­gi­ble to re­turn, Cum­ming doesn’t ex­pect a re­build­ing sea­son in 2017-18.

“I re­ally do be­lieve we’re go­ing to be in the thick of things again,” he said.

Cum­ming spent eight sea­sons with the Chatham Ma­roons be­fore join­ing the Blades last sum­mer. He was the Ma­roons’ as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager and as­sis­tant coach when he left just be­fore the 201516 sea­son.

“He is a great hockey guy that will rep­re­sent the team and the com­mu­nity with class,” Blades gen­eral man­ager Lon­nie Hamil­ton said in a news re­lease. “Bill un­der­stands the game and has ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ships with the play­ers. He de­mands re­spect and yet still has the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate in a pos­i­tive man­ner.

“Bill is ex­tremely pas­sion­ate and com­mit­ted. He is a true rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Blen­heim Blades.”

He re­ceived con­grat­u­la­tory texts from sev­eral play­ers Wed­nes­day.

“My style is go­ing to be, hon­estly, un­der­stand­ing that play­ers are dif­fer­ent in this day and age,” Cum­ming said. “Play­ers have to be coached in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Some need to watch video when re­ceiv­ing feed­back, he said. Oth­ers re­act best to a one-on-one talk with a coach.

“There are 23 play­ers on the team and they’re dif­fer­ent,” he said. “It’s not just one style that’s go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.”

Each player may be dif­fer­ent, but all will be taught re­spect, he added.

“You have to have re­spect for your coach, re­spect for your fel­low play­ers, re­spect for the ref­er­ees and re­spect for your or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Cum­ming said.

He en­joyed his one sea­son work­ing un­der Shine.

“I’ve got to hand it to Ken,” Cum­ming said. “He’s a great hockey guy. I learned a lot from him and I re­ally re­spect him.”

Gag­ner played in the OHL with the Brant­ford Alexan­ders and Hamil­ton Steel­hawks from 1983-85. He’s coached for roughly 30 years and has been with the Chatham-Kent ‘AAA’ Cy­clones since 2001.

He was the Al­liance Hockey coach of the year in 2012. He’ll coach the Ban­tam Cy­clones next sea­son as well.

Tiffin, a for­mer Ma­roons as­sis­tant coach, was an as­sis­tant coach this past sea­son with the Sar­nia Le­gion­naires. He’s also a for­mer Wal­lace­burg Lak­ers head coach.

Gag­ner will work with the for­wards while Tiffin han­dles the de­fence.

Ex-Blade Nick War­riner, a for­mer Ma­roons cap­tain and for­mer Soo Grey­hounds as­sis­tant coach, will also help at prac­tices when he’s avail­able.

NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals’ Tom Wil­son, left, cel­e­brates his goal as Toronto Maple Leafs’ Tyler Bozak skates past dur­ing the first pe­riod in Game 4 of their NHL Eastern Con­fer­ence quar­ter-fi­nal Wed­nes­day at Air Canada Cen­tre in Toronto. The Cap­i­tals won 5-4, ty­ing the best-of-seven se­ries 2-2. See Page A5 for more.

DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

For­mer Chatham Ma­roons as­sis­tant coach Bill Cum­ming is the new head coach of the Blen­heim Blades.

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