Wednesday , 6 July 2022

WATCH: Yaks coach Brad Flynn eager to begin hockey season

“I feel like another Maritimer here heading west to work, so I’m excited,” Flynn joked.

Although it’s through a computer screen sitting at a Starbucks in Belleville, you notice the anticipation on Brad Flynn’s face for the next hockey season.

A week after being named the Bonnyville Pontiacs next head coach, there is much work to do for the 37-year-old, who is happy to return to Alberta — this team as a junior club’s main bench boss.

He had worked under former NHL coach Brent Sutter in Red Deer for three seasons for up until 2021, and Mario Pouliot before that in Bathurst for one season before he won back-to-back Memorial Cups with different organizations. Coming now from Chris Lazary’s staff in Saginaw of the OHL, Flynn feels it is his time.

“I left Corpus Christi to go back to the Major Junior as an assistant coach, but in the back of my head it was always because I wanted to learn from different coaches and continue to grow,” Flynn told Lakeland Connect. 

I felt like I’ve grown quite a bit as a coach and I saw the opportunity to come to Bonnyville here online, and did some research and understand that the organization had a track record of being loyal to coaches, and there’s a very strong foundation.

I was thrilled to be offered the position as the head coach,” he said. 

The Yaks are coming off of a strong 36 win regular season and just one point out of 2nd place in the North Division, but it ended in disappointment in the AJHL’s first round of playoffs.

As a result, long-time head coach and general manager Rick Swan was let go, and the franchise looked to write a new chapter in their history.

While Flynn decided to end his pursuit as a player in 2012 after a post-secondary career with University of Southern Maine and Brock University, plus a pro stint in the SPHL, he hasn’t just learned the coaching ropes from those colleagues he met through Major Junior, but through his dad as well.

Danny Flynn, winner of the Memorial Cup and two QMJHL titles, not to mention years in the CIS and as a scout in the National Hockey League, Brad has had a front-row seat to high-level hockey for a long time.

He hopes to apply what he’s learned here in Bonnyville.

“I’ve been very fortunate that that I’ve just seen it from different perspectives, and obviously firsthand experience being around my dad. The way that I look at my philosophy is more about developing the players, developing the system to fit the players, and then helping their skill-set grow inside of a team system,” said Flynn.

“We’re gonna have to have a great work ethic. First and foremost, guys who want to show up every day, from the time they come to the rink to become better players, better people. We’re going to compete hard, because that’s got to be the foundation night in and night out. And I think that’s what fans and people care about is, they’re not always going to judge you on your record, but they want your team to show up every night to work hard and take pride in wearing the jersey and representing the community.

“I know that the Pontiacs have a good culture in place and a track record of that foundation. Then on top of that, we want to develop the individual and the player as well, so they can maximize their potential and reach their goals.”

In the meantime, Flynn is working on moving to the community soon, hoping to be settled in July.

The Pontiacs training camp is in late August before a tentative regular season start date of Friday, September 16. A full AJHL regular season schedule will be released June 22.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.