By Chris Langrill
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Steelheads assistant captain Darrell Hay spent eight home games behind the bench this season while recovering from a knee injury.
Those who know Hay said he fits the role of assistant hockey coach as well as he fits into the suits he wore for those games.
“With Darrell, you can really see he has that persona,” Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal said. “He really does have an insight for the game, and he has the personality for (being a coach). He was really good behind the bench.”
It’s a role that Hay has been groomed for – his dad, Don, was a head coach in the NHL.
“He was about 5 years old when I got into coaching,” Don said about his son. “He was exposed to that. A coach lives the game 24 hours a day, every day of the year. So there’s hockey talk at our house every day.”
Don Hay is the coach of the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He won a national championship with the Giants in 2006, and his coaching career has included NHL head coaching stints with Calgary and Phoenix. He also served as the Steelheads associate coach during most of the Kelly Cup Playoffs when Idaho won the ECHL title in 2004.
Darrell Hay played for Idaho’s Kelly Cup championship teams in 2004 and 2007. He is a two-time ECHL All-Star, and was named the National Conference captain in 2006.
Father and son have enjoyed sharing hockey success stories with each other.
“Dad and I had a pretty good relationship through hockey,” Darrell said. “It was a lot of our conversation.”
While Darrell was growing up, his father was working with Ken Hitchcock, who is the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Tom Renney, who coaches the New York Rangers.
“Those are two pretty big-name guys,” Darrell said. “You’re kind of a fly on the wall most of the time, listening to these coaches and what they’re talking about.”
And Darrell has never really stopped learning from his father.
“You never stop learning and you always want to get better,” he said. “That’s why I’m always picking his brain. You’re always trying to find an edge.”
For now, Darrell has traded his fancy suit for a Steelheads uniform and he is skating after his third Kelly Cup title. But don’t be surprised if Hay’s work attire takes another turn.
“He’s so smart about the game,” Laxdal said. “He’s going to make a fine coach one day if he chooses that avenue.”