By Brian Compton
After spending the past eight years – seven in the ECHL – three time zones away, well-respected head coach Rick Adduono gathered his belongings and headed west this summer.
Adduono, who guided the South Carolina Stingrays to a Kelly Cup championship in 2001, now has the task of guiding the Long Beach Ice Dogs to new heights. It’s a welcome challenge for Adduono, who was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Pensacola Ice Pilots on Jan. 6, 2006. The Ice Pilots struggled mightily last season, going 21-44-7 and finishing last the ECHL’s South Division.
While it’s basically unfathomable to imagine a head coach with 259 ECHL victories being let go, the 51-year-old was left unemployed less than four months into the season.
“I wish I knew (what went wrong in Pensacola),” Adduono said. “Patience is a big thing. The (Toronto) Marlies and Maple Leafs had some injuries, and all of our young players were getting called up to the American League. We got back to 8-8, we lost 11 players between Houston and Toronto, but the games we lost we kept really close. The only thing I can tell you is that I did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Now, he has a fresh start in Long Beach, where Adduono will also be tackling the GM duties. With only two players returning from last year’s squad, the Ice Dogs are truly Adduono’s team.
“It’s definitely a fresh start for me,” said Adduono, who appeared in four NHL games as a player between the Boston Bruins and Atlanta Flames. “We have new ownership here and they’re ready to try different things and continue a great tradition. This really is a breath of fresh air for me.”