Tim Ruhnke – Recorder & Times
That’s what friends are for.
Brockville Braves GM Dustin Traylen was in the market for a head coach after Jesse Winchester was hired recently by the Ottawa Senators to work as a development coach. Traylen turned to his former Clarkson University teammate Randy Jones, and he and his daughter Anabell were welcomed by about 50 Braves officials, players and supporters at a news conference in the Memorial Centre lobby on Friday afternoon.
Jones is a New Brunswick native whose professional career as a defenceman spanned more than a decade, including the better part of nine seasons in the NHL. He was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003 and played in the NHL and AHL before being picked up by the Los Angeles Kings in 2009. Jones went on to play for Tampa Bay and Winnipeg.
Jones, 37, recently finished a three-year stint coaching the Saint John Vito’s midget AAA team.
“I’m extremely happy to be here,” he told the gathering. Jones added that he is “very fortunate” to have “the opportunity to work with such great kids and great organization” as well as with a good friend like Traylen. In thanking the organization for putting its trust in him, the new bench boss said he is looking forward to meeting everyone and getting things off on the right foot.
There won’t be much time for Jones to rest after his drive in from the east coast on Friday. The Braves open development camp at the North Grenville Municipal Centre on Saturday morning, and the 2019-2020 regular season is barely two months away.
In addressing Winchester’s departure to the Senators, Traylen said that the former coach produced some of the best players the Braves have had in the last 10 years. Brockville made it to the CCHL semi-finals both years he was behind the bench, and Winchester was named the league’s coach of the year each season.
“He taught us so much in such a small amount of time,” said the GM, who added that the culture and skills that Winchester brought to the team were unbelievable. In thanking the former coach for his time with the Braves, Traylen said Winchester is close to so many connected with the team.
Jones acknowledged his predecessor and congratulated Winchester on being hired by Ottawa. Winchester had a desire, determination and “want factor” that helped push his kids to the next level, the new Brockville coach commented.
There were two new shirts and ball caps to be presented in the Memorial Centre lobby on Friday afternoon. In addition to introducing Jones as the Jr. A team’s bench boss, Traylen announced that Jason Hawkins is the new head coach of the Jr. B team. Former bench boss Andrew Dickson was no longer with the club, the GM said.
Hawkins, whose experience as a junior hockey coach includes serving in Jr. A for several years with the Braves as well as with Kemptville and Smiths Falls. He was head coach and GM of the Athens Aeros last season.
“It’s nice to be back in Brockville,” said Hawkins.
Both of the new hires did not speak at length during the announcement event. “I’m not big on doing these big conferences or nothing like that,” Jones remarked.
When asked about the Jr. A team’s outlook going into next season, Traylen said the Braves have a good amount of experience in the returning players. The scouts have done a fabulous job of recruiting players, the GM said. In noting there are a lot of players that will be attending camp this weekend, Traylen indicated there is much interest in the Braves program nationwide and in North America right now.
Original Story at Recorder.ca