When Brent Sutter announced that he was stepping back behind the Rebels bench, he also announced that he was bringing another veteran coach with him.
Jeff Truitt brings to Red Deer a long and impressive hockey resume... [ via whl.ca]... Assistant Coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes
1993-96... Head Coach of the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL 1997-2000... Kelowna
Rockets Assistant Coach 2000-03 and Associate Coach in their Memorial Cup winning season of 2003-04... Rockets Head Coach from 2004-2007. The Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup
as WHL Champions in 2003 and 2005.... Assistant Coach with
Springfield in the AHL in 2007-08, and then became
the team’s Head Coach in 2008-09. He was an Assistant Coach with San
Antonio of the AHL in 2010-11, and held the same role with Texas (AHL)
in 2011-12. Additionally, Truitt was the Moose Jaw Warriors Director of
Hockey Operations in 2009-10.
Truitt has experience with Hockey Canada; in 2004 he was an
Assistant Coach with the Canadian National Junior Team, where they won a
silver medal. Truitt was also an Assistant Coach with the Canadian
National Under-18 Team at the 2007 World Under-18 Championship.
I had a chance to speak with Truitt following his first practice with the Rebels on Thursday afternoon...
Jeff's thoughts on joining the Red Deer Rebels organization...
"[I'm] obviously thrilled. It comes at a difficult time, obviously, with what happened. But I'm thrilled to be here, it's a great organization. I remember coaching in Kelowna and coming in here and having some big wars here against the Rebels. That's what we're gonna strive for again. With Brent and Bryce [Thoma] here it's great. My first day here they made me feel very welcome."
Having coached against the Rebels gives him a good idea of what to expect...
Absolutely. I'm learning day by day myself but I know the expectations coming in. I think we share those types of things, we expect nothing but the best. We're not gonna cut corners and that's what's going to get you to another level.
Obviously, you have a lot of confidence in yourself thanks to your coaching experience...
"Yeah, there's no doubt I've been around for quite a while. 11 years in the western league and fortunate enough to win some championships and league titles and things like that. I'm just trying to fit in and obviously help wherever I'm needed and have a good plan for the guys and have them prepared."
What did Brent Sutter say as he brought you in?"The expectations for me are to obviously help him with the experience that I do have. Brent's got dual responsibilities so if there's anything that falls on my lap that's fine with me. I've been a head coach in this league before. My strengths are something that Brent wants me to do. Be a positive guy and keep the guys alive and accountable. That's the biggest thing right now with any team at any time of the year so that's what I'm gonna try to perform."
Are you treating this as an audition for possibly becoming the head coach of this team at some point?
"I'm not looking any further ahead than tomorrow and practice and things like that. It's gonna fall where it may. I'm not putting any extra pressure on anything that I can't control. I just want to come in here and help the guys with their confidence and help the team succeed. I'm just gonna take it day by day here just the same as the players."
Based on you've seen, what are your general impression of this team?
"This is the first day I've seen the group. I like the stick-to-it-ness today. Through the drills, they worked hard. I'm really excited about getting another practice in tomorrow [Friday] and watching the games this weekend and watching live for myself what the team can do. They're not that far off from doing some really great things here."
The Rebels trimmed two more players from their roster on Friday... releasing import defenceman Jan Bittner and forward Austin Ferguson.