BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads are just over a month away from their opening game of the 2019-2020 season.
During their offseason, they have made some pretty big moves to put themselves in the best position possible for another run at the Kelly Cup. From adding players to hiring new coaching staff, the Steelheads have been busy over the warm summer months.
The team added six new rookies in addition to eleven returning Steelheads including Keegan Kanzig, Colton Saucerman, and captain, A.J. White. The veterans will bring a seasoned presence to the lineup and help the new younger guys get used to the team and style of play that the Steelheads like to play.
The franchise also announced a new coaching staff consisting of Head Coach Everett Sheen and assistant Scott Burt.
Jared Jacobs, a 17-year veteran employee of the Steelheads and longtime hockey fan, has seen many of the changes that the Steelheads have had to endure. Jacobs is an excellent resource about how the Steelheads manages change. He’s seen the transition of WCHL to the ECHL, both Kelly Cup championships, the growth of the fan base, and the numerous player and staff changes. Jacobs commented about the effectiveness of having a guy like Burt around the team from a change standpoint.
“The goal for the guys at this level of hockey is to make it to that next level. Scott was able to do that and so having him around and him knowing what it takes to make it there, he will be really beneficial to have on the staff.
“Scott is coming from coaching at a development level. I believe he will continue this coaching style and help many Steelheads players develop their level of play.”
Players at this level move up and down on a game-to-game basis. However, staff changes are few and far in-between. Adjustments of this magnitude can be much more nerve-racking as fans. Over a career spanning two decades, Jacobs has seen much of these changes first hand.
“It does not scare me to see players at this level moving up. (The ECHL) is a developmental league, and if we have players that are moving on, then we are doing something right. Staff changes are a little different. We see much less of staff changes at this level. When they have occurred, the Steelheads have always brought in coaches that have the respect of the players. That really helps with the overall success of the team.”
Having someone behind the bench who has been in the players’ skates and make it to the next level is critical to more Steelheads success.
Sheen served as an assistant coach for the Steelheads for the past three seasons before being hired over the summer as Idaho’s new head coach in a much-applauded move. Sheen knows the system, has the respect of the players, and knows what to build on – traits which will help the Steelheads be successful, Jacobs has noticed.
“The guys kind of bond with the Assistant Coach really well, and so they are going to already have a really good bond there. because we got a lot of guys coming back from last year, I think we will move forward in a positive and fast way.”
Jacobs knows what changes work well and not so well for this team. He mentioned how key it is to have a head coach that already knows the guys and having him as the new head coach will result in Steelheads success.
The Steelheads were able to make some pretty big offseason moves that will help them step up their game from last year. Many of these changes have been similar to changes made in past seasons. They made their assistant coach from the previous three seasons their new head coach, something that has proven successful in the past, according to Jacobs. These changes will bring an exciting game of hockey this season and hopefully improve the team as a whole from last season.
Follow Rachel Gillett (@SinBinIdaho) for all your Steelheads offseason news heading into the 2019-20 regular season. And, keep track of all ECHL offseason signing announcements on our ECHL Transactions page!