The Swift Current Broncos stabilized their leadership today by locking up Coach/GM Mark Lamb to a contract extension. The three-year deal includes the coming season and will take Lamb through the 2016-17 season.
Interview with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb
Interview with Broncos Chairman Liam Choo-Foo
Lamb heads into this season as the coach with the longest current consecutive tenure with one WHL team. It’s a large leap from being a coach with no head coaching, junior hockey coaching or management experience when he took over. The former Dallas Stars assistant coach has had opportunities to get back in the pro game again throughout his time in the WHL. As much as some have speculated that he would only be here for a few seasons honing his resume to get back to the NHL, Lamb told me today he is only interested in one day leaving if it’s the right job. He’s not looking to be an assistant… he’s interested in a different kind of challenge as he continues to become a well-rounded hockey executive.
There are a couple of things that stand out for me about Lamb’s tenure in Swift Current so far. I remember him telling me in our season-ending interview back in 2010-11 that he wasn’t pleased with how few NHL draft picks and pro players they had been producing at the time. That’s not to say they weren’t produced in the previous regime… just that at the time it wasn’t a good part of the cycle. Since then the Broncos have seen players drafted every year with as many as three twice over that span. They have also seen more alumni have success at the minor pro and NHL level since that time. That’s largely due to drafting and developing pro ready players, but it doesn’t hurt having a coach/gm with so many pro connections and a good reputation helping get his players opportunities.
The other thing that really stands out for me in the recent years of Lamb’s tenure is the development of an identity. It wasn’t as clear in the beginning as he got to know the league and the organization. After the Cody Eakin trade triggered a rebuild the organization has created a rugged, blue collar style that has helped define what it means to be a Bronco in this era for the organization. I and others have said before that a player like former captain Adam Lowry really defined what the identity of this team has become… and it seems like players are coming in even as rookies with that kind of attitude in mind if they want to be a part of it.
Now after all the work they’ve put towards rebuilding their system and crafting an identity it seems like the roster is in position to take another step forward. Two straight very competitive first round losses against very good teams should be the kind of learning experience that can push this group to new levels. This is what Lamb has been building towards since coming back home. He has had a lot of success taking steps towards this point on and off the ice. To really succeed in his goals the team will have to make a bigger push in the playoffs while showing that the model they’ve developed is one that can last.
BLACK AND WHITE GAME
You can get my recap of the Black and White game by clicking here. I did some interviews after the game…
Interview with F Ryan Sokoloski
Interview with F Tyler Steenbergen
Interview with G Hunter Lorenson
The Broncos take 33 players into the typical exhibition season. Before that they will start pre-season Tuesday night with the rookie game in Moose Jaw. I plan to go check it out if it works out for me with work. Apparently the Broncos will made enough signings to really be able to ice a squad mostly full of rookies. Those young players may not have a lot of spots to play for on this season’s team, but there will be significant turnover after this season and the Broncos have to be prepared. It should be a good look at the future.