Q&A with Dragons head coach Brian Curran ... part 2
The AJHL hockey season draws near and the pieces are coming together for the Drumheller Dragons after a number of signings in the past few weeks. The Mail had a chance to chat with Dragons head coach Brian Curran on his evolving team and what the club plans to do with the fresh slate of a new season. Part 1 of this 2 part interview appeared in the August 17, 2016 edition of The Drumheller Mail.
QIt must also feel nice to know you have these young players for a couple of years with these guys to work with and develop them, right?
Curran: We went young for another reason, too. I’ve been looking at the trend of college scholarships and everyone is continuously looking for that young star hockey player and I felt like we picked up a lot of young kids that I feel will have an opportunity. We have a lot of 99s and I think colleges are looking for these young players to latch on to early on. It’s one of the reasons I got Darryl (Olsen) as our assistant coach. Darryl has been to the highest level, he’s got a couple boys that play hockey and one of them played a couple games in the National Hockey League last year. Darryl has been a skill developing coach and I think that’s really important in today’s game, to work on the skills of these individuals. Darryl is going to take on that role and also teach me some of the stuff he’s been teaching for 15 or 20 years. I think it’ll help these kids. I think we got some good young players in this group and we’ll look at getting them to the next level.
QWhat is the goalie situation like this year?
Curran: We have Xavier (Burghardt) coming back, and one from the U of A coming. We have two or three goalies, and there’s only going to be four here. The goaltending situation is going to be key for sure. But we’ll let that play out through the exhibition games and see where we’re at. We believe in all four of them coming. I can’t tell you too much, I’ve got other goalies trying out too.
QHow about the captain?
Curran: We won’t name the captain yet. It won’t be the captain here last year because he’s gone now. The captain is a big selection you have to make. It’s looking at intangibles of captains, and what we feel the leadership group is. The leadership for this group needs to be strong this year. We have a few guys we’ve identified already and we’ll see how they play out in camp.
QIs there a particular agenda or things to accomplish that you’re pushing for in camp this year?
Curran: We’ve spelt out to the players throughout our camps this year, very clearly, that it’s going to be players that are pushing themselves. Our big concern is that there is not going to be any room for lack of effort or excuses. Players that play for the Dragons this year are going to be the type of players that are going to push themselves to be the best they can be. I know it’s a cliché, but we’re going to look at that. Their demeanor on the ice, their body language, putting line combinations together to see who is good playing with who. There’s a long process that’s going to take some considerable time. But there isn’t going to be anyone here that will say ‘I’m going to take a night off tonight.’ None of that is going to be tolerated here. They all know it and they all understand it, and now it’s up to them to prove it in training camp. Some jobs are on the line here. It’s a real reality check because there’s nothing guaranteed in this game. When you’re an assigned player we expect you to play here, but if another player comes in and kicks his butt, there’ll be a decision to be made. The staff agrees that we will be doing the right thing and the best we can to succeed and accomplish their personal goals and team goals, and get themselves scholarships and onto the next level. The first months will be tough and adjustments will have to be made. They’re always going to complain, hockey players like to complain, but at the end of the day they’re out there giving it everything they have.
QSounds like it should be a good year for the fans.
Curran: It’s a complete change. Last year is over and done with. I don’t want to say the players failed or I failed, we just didn’t do it right and it starts with me and now we are going to make sure we correct those and make those adjustments. That’s the greatest thing about this game: nobody is infallible. Everybody can make mistakes. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you’re not going to be a better player or a better coach. I learned more last year than I did in all my years as a coach, and I think that was important for me. I think that’ll benefit the players, and I just think we have a really good group of players that are going to be on the right path right from the very beginning. There might be some trials and tribulations, as there always is with a hockey team. I don’t coach to lose. I don’t coach to have losing seasons. I coach to have fun, to win championships, to get players to the next level, and for the community to enjoy what we put on the ice.
Brian Curran... Dragons head coach