CORPUS CHRISTI – From Manitoba to Texas – Brad Flynn is making a big move for his second coaching job at the junior level.
The 29-year-old and former Pictou County resident finished his playing career in 2012 before taking his first coaching position the next season as an assistant for the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior A Hockey League. While there the team finished third in their division in back-to-back seasons.
At the conclusion of his team’s season he received a call from John Becanic, head coach of the Corpus Christi IceRays, about the possibility of joining their hockey operations staff as an assistant coach and consultant. Becanic asked Flynn if he wanted to visit for the team’s final two NAHL (junior A) regular season games.
“From a fan standpoint I was blown away by the level of play,” said Flynn. “The skill level was extremely high. John was right that it was comparable to the BCHL skill-wise. From a coaching perspective I was impressed with how the organization treated the staff and players. Everything from the dressing up is first rate. It made me think of a major junior team in a junior A league. They treat it like it’s minor pro.”
It was this experience that confirmed Flynn’s thoughts about the job. He said seeing 6,800 fans at each of the final two IceRays regular season games, a first-class facility and such a quality organization was all he needed to say yes.
“I really knew I wanted it once I got off the phone with John after our initial conversation,” said Flynn. “As a young coach I know I can learn a lot from him and when I got off the phone I wanted the season to start the next day even before I got the job. The bells and whistles of the fans, weather and facility all take a back seat to such a great learning environment.”
As a player Flynn played the majority of his minor hockey in Pictou County, eventually going on to play junior A hockey the first season the Halifax Pepsi moved to New Glasgow and became the Weeks Crushers. He played two seasons under Troy Ryan before moving on to the University of Southern Maine for the 2006-07 seasons.
He then played three seasons with Brock University (2009-2011) before finishing his playing career with the Huntsville Havoc (SPHL) in 2011-12.
“The way I always put it is that when a kid grows up with a dad as a mechanic, they know a thing or two about cars,” he said. “I grew up in a coaching household, so I knew that when I wasn’t drafted into major junior that I wanted to stay in hockey in some way and felt coaching was my best opportunity. I worked hard to play at the highest level possible for as long as possible to help give me a chance at coaching when I was done playing.
His father Danny coached at the major junior, CIS and NHL levels from 1987 to 2013. Flynn isn’t sure if he completely wants to follow his father’s footsteps, but he wants to take one page out of his dad’s book.
“Right now I’m trying to pay my dues the best that I can and look to move to a full-time head coaching or assistant job in major junior down the road,” said Flynn. “I’m not stuck on getting to the NHL at any point right now. Dad went for a year then came back to major junior. I really enjoy that side of helping to develop the young players. I try to coach like my dad does, but with my own twist obviously.
“I would like to stay in junior hockey in major junior or junior A and try to win a few championships along the way.”
His father’s impact on his path in hockey is evident, but credit goes to at least four more men in his life. Flynn looks back to his play in Pictou County as a kid and the effort that Greg MacLean, George Frazee, Cleary Melanson and Kevin Rodgers put into it.
“When they coached me in minor hockey I saw how passionate they were as volunteers,” he said. “I still have a great relationship with all the guys and keep in touch when I can. They have impacted my coaching and the fact that I wanted to do it.”
Although he wasn’t born here in Pictou County, he said he considers this his hometown. Without those four men and the Weeks Crushers organization he believes he wouldn’t have become the player he did or end up going on to coach.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris