It’s a changing of the guard for the Wellesley Applejacks as another long-time administrative staffer has announced his retirement.
Kevin Fitzpatrick will step down as general manager of the Junior C team, and Bill Grebinski, an assistant coach for the last two years, will take over the position. Fitzpatrick will remain onboard for the 2014-15 season as director of hockey operations in a mentoring role.
The news comes weeks after the announcement that Paul Wilkinson would succeed Rob Way as head coach for the upcoming season.
Fitzpatrick’s two decades with the team include 18 years as coach. He assumed the general manager position for the 2013-14 season, but cites time commitments as influencing his decision to step back.
“It started to really weigh on me in the last couple of years,” said Fitzpatrick. “What really struck home for me was when we went to Florida this year. We drove, and that was the first time we’ve taken two weeks’ holiday in 32 years of marriage, and it was the first actual weeklong holiday we’ve had in more than eight years.”
He continued, “I just felt that last year in particular there were things that got missed. I can’t even point out one in particular, but somebody different might have done things a little differently.”
Grebinski, who served as assistant coach under Fitzpatrick and Rob Way, previously worked in Waterloo Minor Hockey in the AAA, AA, and Minor Midget teams. Fitzpatrick’s new role as director of hockey operations will keep him involved in the transition.
“I’ll work with him for the year and get him familiar with the OHA,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’ve been part of the Applejacks for over 20 years, and I wasn’t just going to abandon the team.”
“He will mentor me in this position,” said Grebinski. “Kevin’s a very open book when it comes to working with the team and building the team. He’s well-respected by the other organizations, and when I took the position I told him he’s by far one of the best general managers in Junior C hockey.
“They’re a very classy organization and they’re very well respected,” added Grebinski of the Jacks. “Kevin left pretty big shoes to fill, so I’m going to work very closely with him. The ultimate goal is to build a championship team.”
When asked what makes a good GM, Grebinski replied, “I think you have to be focused; you have to have great leadership and business practice; you have to work with others and be extremely personable, and have a knowledge of hockey.”