The Gwinnett Gladiators announced Tuesday evening that Andy Brandt will be the team’s head coach and general manager for the 2015-16 season. Brandt replaced Rick Emmett, who was fired December 2.
“I am extremely honored to be named Head Coach and to take on the duties of General Manager of Hockey Operations,” said Brandt. “I am very thankful for this opportunity. I look forward to building upon the tradition of excellence that was instilled in me during my career here. This is an exciting challenge as we plan and work to return Gladiators hockey back to the level of success that we expect. I am committed to the individual success of our players and I want each player that returns or comes to the Glads to know that they will be an integral part of restoring our winning tradition.”
The Gladiators have a 18-43-3-3 record and are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.
“This season’s slide has been difficult on all of us. What we have seen from Andy is that he possesses the tools, the qualities and the character that are needed to return the Glads to the winning tradition that we have earned in the past.,” said Gladiators Chairman and Majority Owner Toby Jeffreys. “We feel that Andy can build a team of highly motivated players that care about each other and about our organization. In our discussions and analysis over the past few months, we have come to realize that we simply needed to take the construction of the team in a new direction.”
The team started that reconstruction prior to the March 12th trade deadline, shipping out veteran Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Garry Nunn, Brenden Walker and defenseman Joe Stejskal. In return, the Glads got forwards Jason Wilson, Jeff Silengo and Scott Arnold, plus an influx of college prospects. Brandt will have a head start on building next year’s team, as the Gladiators are owed eight players on active ECHL rosters, from trades made up to the deadline.
“Clearly our focus is on building a better team for next season. There is no moving forward without understanding the path that led us to where we are,” said Gladiators President Steve Chapman. “Clearly, our on-ice product has not been performing to the level that we expect as an organization. We are going to return the team to the level of higher expectations and results that has been our identity. We expect that change to occur next season and we believe in Andy’s abilities and that he is going to get the job done.”