It’s July isn’t this supposed to be slow season for the Broncos? Two more pieces of news yesterday as associate coach Josh Dixon stepped down from his post after one season with the club to take on a new position as Director of Player Development for CAA Sports. The Broncos then went out and completed a deal for a player Dixon knew well in defenceman Kade Jensen from Lethbridge for a 4th round pick in 2018. I had a chance to chat with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb about both those topics last night. I also spoke to the newest Broncos defenceman Kade Jensen on his thoughts about being in Swift Current and what he can bring to the team…
Mark Lamb Interview (Download):
Kade Jensen Interview (Download):
With Dixon obviously this is a shorter term than both parties likely expected. However, we knew from the beginning that Josh is an ambitious guy with a goal in mind to one day be a head coach at a high level. This opportunity will connect him right to the National Hockey League through one of the biggest agencies in the world with some of the biggest clients in the world. It’s a unique job and one can hardly blame him for taking advantage of it. He’s a smart and hard working guy. I expect he will have lots of success in his future.
So what do they do for a replacement? First of all Coach Lamb said Jamie Heward will be back this season and will take on additional responsibility. Heward has had lots of time to get his feet wet in coaching and is often praised by players I’ve talked to for how much he is able to pass on from his experience. The Broncos have certainly developed some very talented d-men with him around. Heward is also taking on a challenge with Hockey Canada at U17s this year so it’s clear he is very committed to honing his craft and challenging himself. Could he one day be a head coach here or elsewhere? If he wants to I’m sure he could. He has also told me before management could be an area of interest for him as well at some point.
That said the Broncos still need to replace Dixon with a guy who is a full time second in command type coach as long as Heward is still commuting in from Regina. As Coach Lamb said in our interview he is a Coach and GM so he needs a guy who can carry the ball for him at times when management duties occupy his time. The job here is a great opportunity for a coach who wants to learn a lot of aspects of the head coaching job but might not be ready for that step yet… or a place with a lot of responsibility for someone who has been a head coach and is looking to get back in the game.
One thing you can say when looking at a list of coaching under Lamb that includes Tim Kehler, Darren Evjen, Andy Schneider, Jamie Heward, Josh Dixon, etc… they are all different guys who came from different backgrounds and brought very different things. He hasn’t had a “type” in those roles and has been open to several perspectives. Whichever way they go it will be an important hire for this season’s team and perhaps maybe someone who could be the future of this coaching staff one day as well.
As for Jensen, it’s hard not to like the deal. The Broncos get a talented young defenceman in the middle of his WHL career for a mid-round pick they have three years to replace with another deal. It’s basically a no risk more to acquire a player that was ranked by NHL Central Scouting and despite not being drafted has been invited to rookie camp by the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Lamb describes Jensen as a hard to play against defensive d-man with a good first pass. He’s listed at 6’3 and 191lbs so he has size as well. 19 points last season for a second year d-man on a poor Hurricanes team is pretty good stats-wise and his plus minus improved significantly from -25 in the first half to only -2 in the second half as the Hurricanes changed coaches and got their ship righted. There is a lot to like about this move.
The other side of this deal is that here is a glut of players on the blue line now. Assuming Brett Lernout and Dillon Heatherington stick in the AHL, the Broncos can return Griffin Foulk, Jordan Harris, Jordan Thomson, Max Lajoie and Jaydan Gordon from last season. They now have Jensen and import draft pick Artyom Minulin joining the team and a handful of talented prospects. Will there be room on this team for the likes of Colby Sissons, first round pick Dominic Schmiemann, Matthew Stanley and Matthew Parsons just to name a few. Check out the prospects section of this blog and you’ll see there are a lot of impressive young defenceman I don’t want to insult by leaving their names off this list. Training camp is going to be very interesting and I would expect a trade or two to deal with the number of options they have on D.
Stay with the blog over the next few days I have Scott Feser and Zac Mackay interviews that I still need to post. I also have a chat with Elmwood GM Sheldon Reinhart on the opening of their new 17th and 18th holes. They look great and I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to play them at the Click Before You Dig Broncos Alumni Tournament in ten days. I think there might be one team left if you want to get in on that. Call the golf club or get in touch with Jeremy or Kirstin Rondeau if you want in.