Monday, 05.07.18 / 1:50 pm CT
Photo: Deborah Morris
IceRays Head Coach Brad Flynn has accepted a position as Assistant Coach with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. He will begin his first season in Red Deer, Alberta in 2018-19.
“I’m extremely excited for both myself and my family to have the opportunity to work for one of the premier organizations in all of junior hockey,” Flynn said. “I’m extremely fortunate in my young career to be able to leave a premier organization in Corpus Christi to not only get to the next level but to do it with another highly respected organization.”
Flynn will be working under former NHL player and coach Brent Sutter, who was selected by the New York Islanders in the first round of the 1980 NHL entry draft. Sutter would go on to enjoy a distinguished playing career in which he won three Stanley Cups, three Canada Cups, and a World Championship bronze medal. His playing days ended with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1998. The next year, Sutter purchased his hometown team, the Red Deer Rebels, and coached them for eight years before going back to the NHL as a head coach for five seasons (two with the New Jersey Devils, three with the Calgary Flames). In 2012, Sutter returned home to Red Deer to reassume his rightful spot on the Rebels’ bench.
“Mr. Sutter’s reputation is widely known through all of hockey as–first-and-foremost–an unbelievable person who is extremely experienced and very hardworking,” Flynn said. “Going to work for him, for me, is the equivalent of going to work for Nick Saban in Alabama. Those opportunities don’t come around often, and when they do, you jump on them.”
Over the last four years, Flynn has garnished his coaching résumé by gaining experience as both a head coach and an assistant coach at both the junior and major junior levels. He began with the IceRays in 2014-15, when he served under John Becanic and helped guide the Rays to what would be their best season in junior franchise history. He then coached a season alongside Mario Pouliot with Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, leading them to a playoff appearance in the Maritimes Division. The following season, he became the fourth IceRays head coach in junior franchise history, shattering his previous record with another winning season and leading Corpus Christi to its first-ever South Division Finals appearance.
In 2017-18, he became the first coach to lead the IceRays to back-to-back playoff appearances. The three seasons in which Flynn coached the IceRays were the team’s best three seasons in junior franchise history by win percentage (90-66-24). Shortly after an assistant coaching position became available in Red Deer, Sutter had taken notice of Flynn’s accomplishments, as well as his demeanor as a person.
“Since the season ended, and an assistant coaching position became available, we had a lot of top candidates apply,” Sutter said. “Through the process of researching our candidates, and interviewing some, we have been very fortunate to have it come to Brad as someone who fits all the needs we are looking for in this position. Although young, he has a wealth of experience and will be a great addition to the staff. His loyalty, work ethic, enthusiasm, communication skills, and creativity on how the game is played today will be very beneficial to the players and our staff.”
Flynn agreed with Sutter’s assessments of his strengths, and believes they will serve him well in his return to an assistant role. “One of my strengths as a coach is that I can communicate well with the players,” Flynn said. “That’s a big strength for an assistant coach. At the end of the day, it’s about developing players and people, and the biggest difference about being a head coach and assistant coach is making decisions, versus making suggestions. I’m perfectly happy with making suggestions.”
The Moncton, New Brunswick native’s days in Corpus Christi were considered some of the brightest days in IceRays franchise history. He is justifiably proud of the program and the culture he has built over the last number of years, and will play an integral part in hiring his successor. The announcement is expected to be made in the next three to four weeks.
“While we are certainly sad to see Brad go, we are happy he’s received such a great opportunity to advance his coaching career,” IceRays General Manager Michael Wood said. “As an organization, we are charged with developing young hockey players. In serving that role, we are also developing great coaches. When a coach brings your franchise the kind of success Brad brought to the IceRays, opportunities will come up. I know he will always be an IceRay in his heart and I am looking forward to tracking his coaching career as he continues to grow.”
While he is thrilled about taking this next step in his life and his coaching career, Flynn can’t help but look back over his years with the IceRays, and give due appreciation to some of the people who helped him to reach this point. “It’s very bittersweet leaving Corpus Christi. As a coach, this is my third year in Corpus. My daughter was born here. Our closest friends are here. This organization made me feel like a part of their family, starting with Mr. Lange and Cassidy. As managers, Pat Dunn, Scott McClarren and Michael Wood have all been a huge part of my growth. Our hockey staff, starting with Mike Mondoux, has been instrumental in helping us reach the success that we’ve reached, along with Assistant Coach Ryan Anderson. I’d also like to thank Jeff Paluseo, George Escamilla, Chris Mantineo, Shelly Bram and Steve Robeau for all their hard work this year. Billets and fans, like the Trasks, Butchers, and Bazinets, made me feel like a part of their family, as well. Most of all since the time I arrived our culture with the IceRays is to put the WE before ME. In saying that, our success and my opportunity to grow as a coach would not be possible without our players. My two captains Mason Krueger and Brendan Miller, Assistants David Baskerville, Nathan Bryer, Tucker White, Trevor Heuser, Matt Acciaioli, Conor Yawney, Rylee St. Onge, Garrett Hallford and all of my former players, thank you for believing in me and our plan. Corpus Christi will always have a special place in my family’s heart.”
Director of Scouting Mike Mondoux will be spearheading the hiring process, and will be taking over the hockey operations department, as well. The IceRays have begun their search for a replacement, effective immediately. Potential candidates are asked to send their résumés to firstname.lastname@example.org.