Up for the challenge
New coach not fazed by pressure
Jim Hulton expects to win with talented Charlottetown Islanders roster
Jim Hulton expects to win – now.
The Charlottetown Islanders new head coach said the talented roster made it an appealing job when the position became available at the end of June.
“I don’t want to go to someplace that doesn’t expect to win,” Hulton said. “I hope the fans expect to win. I hope the community puts pressure on us to win. That’s good pressure.”
Hulton was introduced Thursday during a news conference after accepting a multi-year deal Monday to lead the Islanders. Terms of the contract were not released, per team policy.
Hulton inherits a team, which can virtually return in tact, other than the three overage players in Ryan MacKinnon, Ross Johnston and Spenser Cobbold and one of the four players vying for overage spots this year.
“Talent wins is the bottom line,” Hulton said. “I think the core is here and that’s very exciting.” The team went 35-28-1-4 last season and won its first playoff round since 2004.
“One of our goals is to have an even shorter off-season next year,” Hulton said.
That’s music to the ears of Charlottetown’s Toban Duguay, a fan since the first days of the P.E.I. Rocket.
“It’s a fresh start and it’s a big year for the Islanders. We’ll see how it plays out. I’m hoping for the best,” said Duguay, who wore his Islanders jersey and hat to the announcement. “Anything past the second round is successful in my eyes, and, of course, anything more is a bonus.”
Geoff Boyle, the team’s governor and one of the owners, said general manager Grant Sonier made some deals a few seasons ago to position the team to compete with the league’s elite.
“Hopefully, this year we can take those steps to compete with the very best teams,” he said.
It may have become harder in recent weeks with division rivals Saint John, Acadie-Bathurst and Cape Breton all adding talented pieces to their roster.
“I think that’s just going to make us that much better for a playoff run,” Boyle said.
Hulton said he saw a sign at the Eastlink Centre stating the Islanders were the team for all Islanders, and added he wanted the team to be a reflection of the hard-working community.
“We want to be a team that makes you proud,” Hulton told the roughly 50 people in attendance.
“We want to make this a place that Islanders love, but everybody else in the Quebec league hates.”
Jim Hulton is the new head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders.