By Cleve Dheensaw
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
VICTORIA, British Columbia – New Victoria Salmon Kings head coach Tony MacAulay alluded Thursday to former ECHL coach Peter Laviolette, who has the Carolina Hurricanes two wins from the Stanley Cup, as an ideal role model.
“Peter honed his skills at this [ECHL] level . . . he was a real people person in dealing with his players and a great teacher . . . getting to the AHL and NHL is also a goal of mine . . . but it’s just as important to me to stay in pro hockey for 25 years,” said MacAulay, who at 34, certainly has time and most of his bench career ahead of him.But it was a different Hurricane — the one named Rita — that re-directed MacAulay’s career path through Victoria.
MacAulay was the newly-hired head coach and director of hockey operations for the Texas Wildcatters when the ECHL team’s arena, and 2005-06 season, was wiped out by Rita last fall and leaving MacAulay stranded in a sort of hockey Twilight Zone.
“It was different,” mused MacAulay, a married father of two young children, who has signed a two-year contract with the S-Kings through 2007-08.
So MacAulay left Texas and took over mid-season in December as head coach and director of hockey operations for the stumbling Trenton Titans and guided them into the ECHL playoffs this spring.
When the Victoria coaching job was offered, Halifax-native MacAulay said he had no hesitation leaving Trenton and returning “home” to Canada. It will be MacAulay’s second experience on Blanshard after skating as a player in the Vancouver Canucks’ 1992 training camp at the old Memorial Arena.
“I like my players to do the talking and do the work,” said the quiet-spoken MacAulay, whose coaching philosophy was heavily influenced during five seasons of playing CIS hockey at Dalhousie University under Darrell Young, now eastern scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Nothing replaces hard work. It’ll make an average player an above-average player. The lack of hard work will make an average player a below-average player. I look for smart players who are good people. I was a defenceman, so I like my team to be strong defensively. But our sport has changed drastically over the last two years and you need to be adaptive to the new offensive push being established in our sport.”