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NORFOLK, Va. – On July 26, the Norfolk Admirals introduced Ryan McGinnis as their new assistant coach. McGinnis will join Head Coach Rod Taylor behind the bench for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. Prior to joining Norfolk, McGinnis spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the Indy Fuel, the ECHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Although the 32-year-old played five seasons as a professional, he does not want his playing career to define his coaching career.

“I can’t compare how I think as a coach to how I was as a player. I can’t connect the dots there. What I can connect the dots with is my upbringing and the opportunity.”

The proud father of two girls won multiple championships while playing and coaching. He’s taking what he learned from his championship experiences and applying it here in Norfolk.

“I’ve learned that everyone pulls the rope. In all three cases, there were ups and downs. but, at the end of the day when you digest it and you look back, everyone was pulling the rope. It starts with ownership, upper management, and coaches. we breed it right into the players about that belief and believing that things can get done.” 

Along with the experiences of winning championships, McGinnis learned that coaching in the ECHL, you have to get better everyday. He learned that while coaching two seasons in Indy under former Fuel Head Coach Bernie John.

“we, as Coaches, must get better everyday —  The people you surround yourself with, the books you read, and the conversations you have. There are a lot of good coaches and there are a lot of good coaches on the come up. What are you doing to make yourself better and remain open minded?”

McGinnis also went on to share how important instilling a positive atmosphere into a team setting is:

“It’s our number one job is to communicate and instill our team’s belief in what we are doing everyday. Culture beats scheme any day of the week.”

When McGinnis first joined the Fuel as an assistant back in 2017, John gave McGinnis the following advice:

“The biggest thing is just be yourself. Players can read past it. Don’t lie to these guys; be honest with them and talk to them.”

John also talked about what made McGinnis the perfect fit for the Admirals:

“I think he knows how to communicate with the players. I spoke with Rod a few times about him when rod was looking for an Assistant. Everything rod was looking for, ryan has. He has the pedigree that will help the defense, and has also done some special teams. he’s worked in the league before, so he has connections and communications. He knows a lot of players in the league; that’s a good fit for what rod is looking for to build a hockey team.”

McGinnis coached teenagers and young adults prior to joining the Indy Fuel and the Norfolk Admirals. Now, in the ECHL, he’s coaching grown men. When asked if you have to coach differently, he offered this unique perspective:

“We’re coaching human beings. no matter if they’re 17 or 30, They’re human beings. Over my years, what I’ve capitalized on is the ability to connect with the human being. At the end of the day, it’s hockey — they’re hockey players, and I’m a hockey coach. I don’t treat them any different. I think that’s fair. I hold the players accountable, there’s communication, there’s teaching, and there’s bringing the love out of the game, regardless of the age. As far as the direction, my direction is the same.” 

While coaching a team in Arizona, McGinnis shared the bench with Steve Sullivan, current Assistant General Manager of the Arizona Coyotes. When asked what he learned from his time with Sullivan, a grateful McGinnis replied:

“You have good mentors, and Steve was one. You could always learn from his experiences, his knowledge, and his professionalism. He was a sharp man who knows his stuff and was always prepared. It wasn’t just him; there were others. You take a little bit here and there and you make it your own.” 

Under the tutelage of Head Coach Bernie John (left), Ryan McGinnis spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Indy Fuel before being hired by Norfolk as an assistant for 2019-20. Photo Credit: Whiteshark Photography

Surprisingly, McGinnis lists famous athletes and coaches as mentors. Although he doesn’t know them, he admires the way they handle situations and adversity.

“You have the Sean McVay’s, you have the Steve Kerr’s, you got the Bill Belichick’s and you got the Paul Maurice‘s. they have no idea who I am, and that’s okay. They’re just people I look up to. You take from everybody, and I’m a believer in that.” 

That list also includes former Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, NBA great Kobe Bryant, and Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney. McGinnis, who just moved into his office, plans to hang up some inspirational quotes to motivate his players during the season. One quote by Brady, however, fits in with McGinnis’ coaching style:

“When you lose, say little. When you win, say less.”

Like many assistant coaches in the ECHL, McGinnis will be in charge of running the power play and the penalty kill, along with the defense. With those responsibilities, there is also work behind the scenes, such as player recruitment, video breakdown, and preparing the itinerary and travel for road trips.

“If you want to be really good, you have to be really good. If you want to be good, you have to show up, you have to care, you have to do your homework, and you have to know the people who can connect you. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about, it’s not so much work.”

Consistency is something that McGinnis will be installing on day one of training camp, as he said:

“Be consistent from the first time you make a phone call in the summer to recruit them; be consistent all the way through. When you’re speaking to an athlete, they know it’s been real since day one. I’m not going to be too high or too low.”

Coach Taylor commented on what made McGinnis the perfect choice for the assistant position:

“He brings some great leadership potential. He has a lot of experience in our league. He also came recommended by some very high people, and we’re very happy with him.” 

Given his commitment to his new organization and the willingness to succeed in his coaching career, McGinnis was the perfect choice for the assistant coach position. McGinnis and company will begin the quest for the Kelly Cup on October 11 when they face off against the Florida Everblades at 7:30p.m. at the Norfolk Scope.

Follow Ted Warren on Twitter (@757HockeyDude) for all your Norfolk Admirals offseason news and updates! For the rest of the league, don’t forget to tune in to our ECHL Transactions page for ALL the summer’s signing announcements and transactions!

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