It is three head coaches in three years for the North York Rangers Junior ‘A’ as the club announced the hiring of Brent Hughes on Tuesday.
Hughes, 33, spent between 2013 and 2015 with the minor professional Brampton Beast, and was the club’s head coach in its inaugural season in the East Coast Hockey League.
Due to a close working relationship with former North York head coach John Dean, and a stint as the head coach of the Rangers midgets back in 2012-13, Hughes is quite familiar with many of the players still on the team.
“I am excited,” Hughes said.
“Obviously being part of the organization when I first retired from my playing career, they treated me very well. When the opportunity came about in Brampton, they were first class about it, and I came back a little bit at the beginning last year to help out, and I’ve always had a good working relationship with [general manager Claude Desjardins and owner Brant Snow], so I am excited. I know a good bunch of the guys there already, I’ve already talked to all of them, they seem excited, and so I am looking forward to working with all of them.”
Hughes split his junior career between the Ontario Hockey League’s Brampton Battalion and the OPJHL’s Georgetown Raiders, before moving on to a professional career in the Central Hockey League, International Hockey League, and the English Ice Hockey League.
He began his coaching career with the EIHL’s Dundee Stars, spending two seasons as a player coach with the Scottish-based club between 2010 and 2012.
Despite his wealth of experience in the pro ranks, Hughes is unconcerned about the shift back to coaching teenagers.
“When I first retired and took over the midget AAA team,” Hughes said, “people who know me best and witnessed me behind the bench know that I was kind of in shock as far as how much I really had to simplify things, and make it easy for the kids to understand. Then I got two years coaching at a pro level, and I realized that I was teaching the exact same things, so I don’t think it’ll be too much of an adjustment. Maybe it will be just a little different in terms of how I work with kids at a personal level, but a hockey player is a hockey player. I always say, ‘a lot of people say they want to be a hockey player, but how many people actually want to be a hockey player?’ so we’re going to work at it, and I am looking forward to it.”
Hughes is not a complete stranger to the OJHL either, as he assisted Dean during the 2012-13 run to the Southwest Conference final. He has also worked with current North York players, such as veteran Michael Morgan, while helping out with Dean’s Player’s First Hockey development program.
“It hurts to lose Mark Joslin for sure,” Morgan said, “But I think Hughesy is a great coach, and I am excited to learn from him.”
Joslin has accepted the position of head coach and assistant general manager with the North Division’s Aurora Tigers.
– Photo courtesy Brampton Beast