By John Devlin
© 2005 The State
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Columbia Inferno will have a new look when they open the ECHL season Friday in Augusta against the Lynx.
Troy Mann is the first-year coach. Kevin Kavanagh was brought in as general manager. The franchise signed a new affiliation agreement with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. The roster includes only five players who played in Columbia and none who spent the entire season in an Inferno uniform.
Mann, who served as Ted Dent’s assistant during last year’s 25-39-8 season, is brimming with excitement as the Inferno prepare to open their sixth season.
“It’s been a grueling summer recruiting and getting the new affiliation in place, but I’m very excited about this hockey team and getting the chance to be the head coach here in Columbia,” he said during Thursday’s media luncheon at the Carolina Coliseum.
Mann, a native of Toronto, has been quick to place his stamp on a franchise that suffered its first losing season a year ago.
“I tried to recruit a team that will play an up-tempo style of hockey, and I think we have the horses in place to challenge Gwinnett and Florida in our division,” he said. “The fans will notice a difference right away. Our goal is to play an exciting style of hockey and provide good entertainment.”
Mann, who had an 11-year professional career in four North American minor leagues and in Europe, believed that he was ready to become the coach after Dent moved on following his only season in Columbia.
“I learned a lot from Ted, especially in the area of video breakdown, and I thought we complemented each other well,” Mann said. “But I was ready to coach a team on my own, and I was lucky enough to get the job here with a staff that I was familiar with. This is what my goal has been since I stopped playing.”
Mann will not have an assistant coach.
“That was one of the questions that came up during the interview process, and I said I had no problem with doing it all myself,” he said. “I’ve done all the grunt work that an assistant does, and Kevin and the office staff have taken a lot of the paper work off my desk.
“That may change when I’m banging my head on the wall in my office in January, but, honestly, I think it will be fine.”
The Inferno will open their home schedule Oct. 27 against Augusta.