SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Dave Cameron has begun the next chapter of his coaching career.
The Kinkora Regional High School graduate was named head coach of the Vienna Capitals in early May after being released as an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames on April 17. The Capitals are a pro team that plays in the Austrian Hockey League.
“Going to Europe was always something that Kelly (Cameron’s wife) and I talked about as maybe things were winding down (in my coaching career),” said Cameron, who resides in Kildare Capes during the off-season. “When it didn’t work out in Calgary, out of the blue I got a call through my connections with Hockey Canada, and was told the (Vienna) team was interested in maybe looking at me as head coach.
“Their head coach, who had been there the last two years, moved up to the Swiss league. . . They flew Kelly and I over in May, we met the owner and GM, and I was back again in June. They offered me the job, and there was no hesitation to take it.”
Cameron, who compiled a 70-50-17 (won-lost-overtime losses) record as head coach of the Ottawa Senators from December 2014 to the end of the 2015-16 season, has extensive head coaching experience in the American Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, now-defunct Colonial Hockey League and the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League).
“Everybody strives to be in the NHL, but at the end of the day, for me where I was at, the most important thing is I wanted to be a head coach again,” said Cameron, who played 168 NHL games with the Colorado Rockies and New Jersey Devils in the early 1980s. “It’s really hard to be a head coach in the National Hockey League, there are not many jobs.
“When this opportunity came up I was excited about it, and took it.”
Training camp underway
Cameron recently arrived in Vienna for the 2018-19 season, and the Capitals opened training camp on Monday.
“The thing with us, as is the case with most European leagues, is their big event is the world championships that start in early May,” said Cameron in explaining why camp opened so early. “Every league has all the playoffs and everything done by the end of April as teams release players to the national teams for the world championships.”
Cameron, who had two stints as head coach of the Summerside Western Capitals’ junior A hockey team in the late 1980s and early 1990s, noted another reason for the early start is the league also shuts down for a week three times during the season to allow national team players on different teams to play in tournaments as preparation for the world championships.
As for the calibre of play in the Austrian Hockey League, what does Cameron know, or expect?
“From my research and looking at the players I have on my team, and the players who are scattered throughout the league, there are some guys who have had a sprinkling of games in the NHL, but most of them were pretty good American Hockey League players,” answered Cameron. “The team is made up of half imports and half Austrians. I think it’s going to be right around the American Hockey League.”