A man with a plan

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Charles Reid
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New head coach Gordie Dwyer wants to take the Rocket in a ‘north-south’ direction

New P.E.I. Rocket head coach Gordie Dwyer speaks during a press conference Tuesday at the Civic Centre. (Guardian photo by Brian McInnis)

New P.E.I. Rocket head coach Gordie Dwyer has a plain vision for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League squad.

“(I want) an aggressive north-south kind of hockey team. A hard team to play against,” said Dwyer on Tuesday after being announced as the fifth Rocket head coach since 2003. “I’m a huge advocate of conditioning since I’ve been a coach and when I was a player. It allows us to play an aggressive up-tempo style of play.”

Dwyer, 33, is a Dalhousie, N.B., native and the former head coach and associate director of hockey operations of the junior A Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League. 

Under his guidance, the Capitals won the MHL crown this season and reached the Fred Page Cup. In his first season in 2009-10, Summerside reach the league semifinals. 

Dwyer signed a three-year deal and terms weren’t disclosed during a Tuesday  press conference at the Civic Centre. 

Montreal Canadiens legend and Rocket owner Serge Savard Sr. attended the announcement.

Dwyer takes over a young Rocket team going through a transition. 

Veterans like Evan Mosher, Samuel Morneau and Uigg native Travis McIssac have graduated. 

Adam Polasek, Philippe Paradis and Andrej Nestrasil are also likely moving on next season. 

It means an influx of new players and new roles for the younger members of a team which finished 10th overall last season and exited in the first round of the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

But Dwyer said he’s ready for the task, his first in major junior hockey, despite a limited knowledge of the league and limited input into the QMJHL entry draft next month in Victoriaville.

“It’s another level of commitment. It took a (serious) amount of commitment to play in the NHL,” he said. “We’ll sit down in meetings with the scouting staff and they’ll be aware of my philosophy as a coach.”

He’s also not worried his age will be a factor in winning over the dressing room with some players not much younger than him.

“I can create those relationships with players. Expectations will be set,” said Dwyer. “We’re going to create a competitive environment.”

Rocket president and general manager Serge Savard Jr., agrees age isn’t a concern. 

Dwyer was his main candidate, but said he waited until Dwyer’s playoff run with the Caps this season was over to discuss terms. 

It helps Savard’s list contained just Dwyer’s name. 

That narrowed the search after Eric Lavigne, former Rocket coach, resigned in April to be with his family in Quebec.

“He communicates well with players. Winning a championship ay any level is very hard . . . so that tells you his competence as a coach,” said Savard. “I talked to a couple of his players. He walks the fine line and they don't step on his toes.”

Savard said Dwyer will decide if assistant coach Corrado Micalef, who’s been with the Rocket since 2007, will return. 

In two seasons with the Capitals, Dwyer had a record of 80-42-2-5. 

Dwyer lives in Seaview with his wife, Louise, and sons, Jack, Ryan and Sean, but plans to relocate to Charlottetown.

creid@theguardian.pe.ca

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A few facts about Gordie Dwyer, new head coach of the P.E.I. Rocket:

u Born in Dalhousie N.B., 33 years old.

u Played four seasons in the QMJHL (1994-1998), had 70 goals, 135 assists, 205 points, 1,582 penalty minutes in 310 games with Hull, Laval, Beauport, Drummondville and Quebec.

u Won a President Cup championship in 1995 with Hull.

u Drafted by St.Louis Blues, 67th overall in 1996, drafted by Montreal Canadiens, 152th overall, in 1998.

u Over 10 seasons of professional playing experience in the NHL, AHL, IHL, ECHL, including three seasons of international experience in Sweden and Germany.

u Played 108 regular season games in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.

u Overall numbers as a professional hockey player: 34 goals, 64 assists, 98 points, 1,796 penalty minutes in  486 games.

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Capitals, Montreal Canadiens Maritime Hockey League NHL Civic Centre Tampa Bay Lightning New York Rangers

Geographic location: Dalhousie, Quebec, Victoriaville Hull Charlottetown Laval Beauport Drummondville Sweden Germany

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