Blades promote Cumming to head coach
Gagner, Tiffin added to Blenheim coaching staff for next season in PJHL
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.
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.
Former Chatham Maroons assistant coach Bill Cumming is the new head coach of the Blenheim Blades.