CINCINNATI, OH – On August 4th, 2016, 12-year professional and notorious enforcer throughout minor pro hockey, Patrick Wellar was named the next assistant coach of the Cincinnati Cyclones, joining head coach Matt Macdonald‘s staff.
After spending the past two previous seasons as a Player-Assistant Coach with both the Utah Grizzlies, and Alaska Aces, Patrick will be entering his first full-time coaching gig when October rolls around to kick off the 2016-2017 season.
With this being his first season in the Queen City as well, I had the opportunity to do a Q & A session with Coach Wellar to help Cyclones fans can get to know their new assistant coach a little better, and also find out how things are shaping up for the this year’s Cincinnati Cyclones squad.
Q: Hailing from Saskatchewan, Canada, kids live and breathe hockey up there. How early did you start playing and when did you know this was something you wanted to do for a living?
A: I started playing hockey when I was 6 years old. My brother, who is a year older than me, started at the same time so we were able to play on the same team which was great. Every two years we would be fortunate to play on the same team which looking back is very special. In all honesty, I never played hockey with the dream of playing professionally at first. My goals changed along the years as I progressed. When I entered junior hockey, I set my sights on playing professionally.
Q: Being a Player-Coach the past two seasons, what made you decide it was time to hang it up and move into a full-time coaching role?
A: I had been looking to end my playing career after the conclusion of last season. I think every player gets to the point in their career where they feel they can’t contribute at the level they were once accustomed to. For me, I felt like it was the right time.
Q: As a follow-up to the last question, when did you realize you were destined to be a coach?
A: I started thinking coaching was something I wanted to pursue as my career was winding down the past 3-4 years. I have been fortunate throughout my seasons to have learned the game from some of the best coaches in hockey. I think you grab small details from every coach you cross paths with and adapt or tinker with different philosophies.
Q: 1,223 penalty minutes in 747 professional games. Did you always envision yourself as an enforcer or did you once think you were going to be the guy scoring the goals?
A: I don’t think any player grows up wanting to be an enforcer. Being from Saskatchewan, growing up, we always prided ourselves on playing a hard nosed style of game. I never was a big scorer as a kid so I knew being a defenseman was my best bet to climb the ranks. Although I never viewed myself as an enforcer, I always felt doing whatever it took, including fighting, would make me more of an asset to a team. Although, with my size and style of play, the ensuing rough stuff was bound to happen.
Q: As a player, you played in two Conference Final series’ against the Cyclones. What attracted you to the city of Cincinnati and the Cyclones organization?
A: When the opportunity came along to coach with Matt Macdonald, I couldn’t have been more excited. We have a great relationship so getting the chance to coach under his guidance couldn’t be more ideal. I have known many players who have played for the Cyclones in the past and everyone of them rave about their experience in Cincinnati. I believe this to be a first class organization and am honored to be apart of it now. I could go on about Cincinnati, but I really believe this great city and surrounding areas sell themselves!
Q: You’ve got three Kelly Cup Championships to your name as a player, so you know what it takes to win at this level. How do you get your message across to your players so that they can hopefully have the same success?
A: I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have played on 4 championship teams as a player. Once you win a championship, it changes your entire perspective on hockey in general. As a coach, I will look to draw from different experiences I have encountered for certain situations. I want to drill into our players the mindset that with team success, individual long-term success will follow. These are core values I know both Matt Macdonald and I share. We both know what winning at the ECHL level can do to elevate your chances of playing at higher levels. I look forward to implementing this type of attitude with Matt for the Cyclones.
Q: The Cyclones have lost 10 players to Europe; most notably, two top scorers in Jack Downing and Andrew Yogan. How have you and Coach Macdonald gone about building the roster and replacing those key players?
A: Yes, losing players to Europe is not overly ideal. We understand it can be frustrating for certain fans who wish to see returning players each season. At the ECHL level, you never can predict the amount of turnover. That being said, these things happen and we can’t dwell on our losses. Matt Macdonald and I are really happy about how our new lineup is coming together for next season. There will be a lot of new faces, but we both really believe our fans will love the new additions!
Q: Cyclones fans would slaughter me if I didn’t ask this. Defense was an area of concern last season. You and Matt are both former D-men. How do you plan to strengthen the back-end?
A: I don’t believe you can win at any level without great team defense. I think we have done a good job targeting the right players who are willing to sacrifice and compete defensively. Playing great team defense isn’t just going to fall on our goaltenders and defenseman, every player on our roster this year will buy into the systems. With both Matt and I being former defenseman, we feel we can help teach the finer points to all our players.
Q: Lastly, rapid fire time: Favorite food, T.V. series, movie, music genre, etc.
A: Favorite movie: Top Gun; Favorite food: Pizza; Favorite music genre: Country; Favorite T.V. series: Game of Thrones.
Our thanks to Patrick Wellar for taking time out of his very busy schedule to talk Cyclones hockey with us. The 2016-2017 season is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more pumped to get the season going!