For the fifth time in as many years, the Cochrane Generals have a new head coach. Evan McFeeters, Dan Gendur, Derek Donald, Travis McMillan have all handled the duty for the past four seasons and after a very successful season under McMillan where the Generals went 27-9-2 and qualified for the third round of the playoffs, the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) club will look to Kurtis Jones to build off last season's success.
A native of Banff, Jones is coming in with a lot of coaching experience after spending eight seasons as the assistant coach of the Canmore Eagles Junior A Hockey Club, coach director of Canmore Minor Hockey association, head coach of the minor midget AC Avalanche, and head coach of the Bow Valley Timberwolves AA Peewee, Bantam & Midget.
"It's a great opportunity for me to get back into coaching," Jones said. "I took a couple years off to reevaluate my coaching styles. It's nice to have the contacts and the information that I needed to get back into it and they (the Generals) offered me the position and I'm happy to take it. I'm a players coach for sure. I communicate well with the players and I'd like to consider that to be my main strength in my coaching style."
"I worked with one of the best coaches (Eagle head coach Andrew Milne) in Alberta in Canmore. He is probably one of the best communicators in hockey so I learned a lot from him as well as in the past with other coaches. I've changed a lot as a coach and have had a lot of great mentors which have helped me reach this point."
Jones said he's been keeping tabs on the Generals the last few seasons, a team that has been as consistent as any in the HJHL with numerous playoff appearances, division titles, back-to-back finals and a provincial silver medal.
"I was part of a Junior A organization (in Canmore) so of course I kept an eye on the Generals. Just to see who was playing there, guys that I've coached in the past that are currently there," Jones said. "I know we have 16 returning players and could have up to 20 ... but nobody is guarenteed a spot until I actually see them play. It looks like we'll have a great team, I have the coaching staff already put together and solidified so we're excited to get things going."
Jones also highlighted the fact that he wants to bring some stability to the Cochrane coaching staff, one that has seemingly been a revolving door over the prior four seasons.
"We have one assistant coach returning in Bryan Polymer as well as a new guy who I've worked with in the past," he said.
"I'm happy to have Bryan come back and I think we as a coaching staff can solidify a lot of things and really work together in order to bring a winner to Cochrane."
Jones said he has some goals heading into the season even though it's still a few months away. One of those goals is to build off of last season's success and use that as a catapult for the future.
"You always want to build off the previous seasons' success. We have goals obviously but we haven't laid out our entire plan considering we haven't had our first coaches meeting yet," Jones said. "We're going to be a team that works hard and plays hard for 60 minutes ... that's our goal. We'll know how hard we worked by the outcome of the game and if we've earned it."