After playing 12 years of professional hockey, Jay Henderson moved seamlessly into coaching, starting at the college level for two years before landing with the Ice.
Suffice to say, this past training camp hasn’t been his first rodeo, but the new assistant coach admits it’s been a different experience.
“I was kind of amazed at what goes on behind the scenes,” said Henderson, who spent the previous two season assisting the bench with the NAIT Ooks in the ACAC, based in Edmonton.
“As a player, you don’t really worry about that, you worry about yourself, right? So it’s nice to be on the other side of things and obviously, it’s a really well organized club, so to see the way they function—there’s a lot of great people here, which is awesome.”
A lot of players Henderson worked with at NAIT had just finished in some junior league—whether the WHL or Jr. A—but the goal of developing talent is still the same. In fact, he already had a connection to the club as he coached Ice graduate Steele Boomer for a year.
“There’s a lot of bright futures here for some of these guys and that’s where the skill levels are,” said Henderson, “and it’s our job to mould them into young men and young professionals.”
Henderson joined the Ice in the summer, signing a two-year contract and replacing former assistant Chad Kletzel, who resigned to spend more time with his family.
The players were split up into three teams at training camp—Blue, Black and White—with individual team practices and scrimmages. Henderson was out on the ice with bench boss Ryan McGill to help run the practices and get his hands dirty.
“It’s amazing, to be honest with you,” he said. “A lot of the talent, I wouldn’t say all of it, but a lot of it, is in the young kids—young men—but the veterans have done a great job with them, allowing them to perform up to their capabilities.”
“…It was a great week at camp and I’m really looking forward to Tri-Cities to see how we match up against other teams.”
McGill has noticed what his new assistant has brought to the team so far, and is excited for the future.
“He’s going to be great,” said McGill. “The kids love him, he’s got a real good grasp of how we do things here and he’s fitting in just perfectly.”
Ice season tickets to be released at pancake breakfast
Kootenay Ice season ticket holders can come by the office and dig into a pancake breakfast on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Running from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. inside Western Financial Place, season ticket holders can come by for something to eat and mingle with the coaching staff and players.