The Saint John Sea Dogs have hired New Brunswick native Gordie Dwyer to be the team's next head coach.
Born in Dalhousie, the 43-year-old Dwyer replaces Greg Gilbert, who coached the team for one pandemic-shortened season.
"I recognize it as a great opportunity for myself as a coach … it's not necessarily the next job, it's the right job, and I feel like this is the right job for me as a head coach," Dwyer said at Wednesday's news conference.
Dwyer had a few brief stints in the NHL as a player and also played overseas in Sweden and Germany.
He began his coaching career in 2009 with Summerside in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League.
He would be named the league's coach of the year in 2011, leading his team to the championship that year.
That led to a four-year stint as head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Dwyer also has international experience, coaching in Croatia, Switzerland and Belarus.
This year, he was an assistant coach for Team Canada at the IIHF world U-18 championships, where the team defeated Russia for the gold medal. He was also an assistant at the Spengler Cup in 2016, where Canada also won the tournament.
As a player, Dwyer was valued for his leadership and his aggressive play, something Sea Dogs president Trevor Georgie referred to when introducing him.
"I'll let him speak to his coaching philosophies, but if anyone has seen him play — If he ever had've been able to put on a Sea Dogs sweater as a player, I think he would have been a fan favourite," Georgie said. "In fact, I know he would have been a fan favourite.
"I think one year close to 70 points and almost 400 penalty minutes [with Drummondville of the QMJHL], so you get a sense for who Gordie is as a person, who Gordie is in terms of his energy, who Gordie is in terms of his commitment, who Gordie is in terms of his willingness to do what it takes in order to win."
While the news of the coaching change came quite suddenly, Georgie said it's something the team has been considering since the season ended, with an eye toward a bid to host the 2022 Memorial Cup.
If successful, it would mean the Sea Dogs would automatically qualify to play in the Memorial Cup as the host team.
"So we spent the off-season thinking deeply about the future for our team, thinking deeply about next season, and considering what needs to happen in order for us to be prepared to put our best foot forward."
And Georgie said they decided what they needed was Dwyer, a bilingual New Brunswick native who has both played and coached in the QMJHL.
Dwyer said he brings an ability to communicate to players what is expected of them.
"At the end of the day, it really comes back to team identity. How does our team play, what is it to be a Sea Dog? And that's something we're really going to push here as a hockey team."