As Jeff Snyder steps up to the position of director of hockey operations for the Elmira Sugar Kings, his assistant coach position has been filled by the Stratford Cullitons’ former interim head coach, Tyler Canal.assistant coach
“He’ll fit in great in Elmira,” Snyder said. “It’s important for us that we get people on our staff we feel fit in the Sugar King way, people that care about not just about winning, but about improving players and developing young men. I think Ty really brings that to the table.”
Canal took over as head coach from his assistant coach position in February when Phil Westman resigned, once it became clear he knew assistant captain Mitch Vandergunst had been convicted of sexual assault in October of last year, but kept mum about it. The Cullitons have hired Dave Williams as head coach, and Paul Jennings, former Kings general manager, as director of hockey operations.
Snyder said they’re excited to add him behind the bench for a number of reasons.
“He knows the league well. It was difficult circumstances when he took over as head coach,” Snyder said. “Playing them in the playoffs we found he had the team well prepared, they made a lot of great adjustments in game against us. We feel he’s got great character, he’s committed to trying to improve the players not just as players, but as young men, that was important for us. Jeff Flanagan spent a lot of time with him and he felt really comfortable with him.”
Canal played for Stratford in his playing days and then he went to the U.S. to Lakeforest College in Chicago on a scholarship. Snyder says his experience both playing and coaching in the league make him a valuable addition to the team.
“There won’t be any transition period coming into his job,” Snyder said. “He already knows what our league is all about, so he knows what the expectations are. He knows other players in the league. I think just familiarity with the league and having played at our level is a nice asset.”
This kind of shuffling within the Junior B league, and the hockey world, is common. Keith Stewart announced earlier this year he’d be finishing his time as director of hockey operations for the Kings at the end of the 2014-2015 season. He’s since taken up the same duties for the Cambridge Winter Hawks.
Canal was hired last Thursday and two days later he was busy helping the coaching staff evaluate players at their prospects camp.
“His personality fits in well with Jeff and Trent (Brown),” Snyder said. “I think they have similar ideas on how the team should be run. It’ll be a real seamless fit in there. They complement each other, the different skill sets they have.”
Snyder considered keeping his role as assistant coach, along with the director of hockey operations position, but once the playoffs were done he decided to step back from coaching. He notes Canal’s enthusiastic attitude as a welcome addition behind the bench.
“We feel fortunate that he was available,” Snyder said. “We feel great to be adding him to our staff.”
The Kings will dole out their annual awards at their end-of-year awards banquet this Sunday.