The Wellelsey Applejacks have a new head coach for the 2018-19 season. Malcolm Hutt, an assistant coach in the season that just ended, will be taking over the reins from Brad Gerber, who is moving into a managerial position with the team.
“It’s exciting,” said Hutt of the promotion. “I wasn’t expecting to be named or become the head coach in the second season, but the opportunity was there. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a challenge. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
A year of experience with the Jacks under his belt, Hutt says he will be coming in with a solid understanding of the team dynamics.
“Taking over this position as head coach, it’s definitely a lot easier being part of the team last year as an assistant coach,” said Hutt. “I know the players coming back, I know what they’re capable of and I got an idea of what they’re all about, so I’m not coming in blind.”
There’s a strong core of players expected to return next season too, which ought to give the new coach a strong advantage over the competition, notes general manager Brock Gerber.
“Right now it looks like we will have at least 16 players returning for next year, so that’s something to build off again. It’s nice if we have a bigger core returning – it makes it a little easier going forward and working with the guys,” said Gerber.
“They all kind of know each other; it’s not like we’re starting over. I think last season we only had nine returning players so we had a big changeover there. You’ve got to kind of rebuild and start over for a bit, and it’s tough to get everybody on the same page. But I think Malcolm will do a good job with that this year, getting everybody on the same page early.”
Hutt is still comparatively new to coaching at this level, but in his time as assistant coach, Gerber says that the organization liked what they saw. Hutt also brings years of on-ice experience to back him up, and he says it was that experience which motivated him to approach the Applejacks in the first place.
“Well, they say coaching is the closest thing to playing and I enjoyed playing hockey growing up, for sure. And once you leave the rink, or once I was done playing, you think you’re not going to miss the game,” said Hutt.
But for Hutt, the exact opposite happened instead.
“I really enjoyed playing hockey growing up and I enjoyed the competitive part of it. So I was just looking forward to getting back around the rink.”
The Applejacks had a bit of trouble with the consistency of their game last season, pulling off some dramatic wins against the top teams but also dropping some unfortunate loses along the way. Ultimately, the Wellesley team was swept in the first round of the playoffs, and placed fifth of nine teams in the South Doherty Division regular season.
While Hutt says he’s not looking to “reinvent the wheel” with his coaching, he is looking forward to bringing his own style and personality to the fore, building off the previous year’s experience. Whether the Jacks have what it takes to make it in the season to come, Hutt has a positive, if pragmatic, outlook.
“We have a good group of guys coming back, both quality kids and quality players, and that’s a good start. But our expectations are high; we always want to do well, that’s always the standard we want to set,” he said.
“And I don’t think we should have any problem competing with the top teams in the league if everyone comes to play the way they can and everyone buys in the way we want to play – that’s going to be a hardworking style, a blue-collar style and that’s kind of what we’re going to go with.”
The Applejacks will be holding their spring camp on May 26. Anyone interested in taking part are encouraged to reach out to the director of scouting Bill Cooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.