The Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals have found their new head coach for next season in Jason Johns.
Johns, who lives in Parksville, has been an assistant coach with the Nanaimo Buccaneers for the last two seasons and is quite familiar with the Generals hockey club. Johns will bring 15 plus years of experience to the Generals, including time as a coach in Alberta and major midget in Saskatchewan.
“We were looking for someone young and energetic and who could get excited about rebuilding a team. This is going to be our team, we won’t be patching any holes like last season and Jason is really looking forward to that challenge,” GM Lou Gravel said about the new hire.
After going through four head coaches last season, the Generals are starting off the season with another new face behind the bench. For Johns, the fact that there was so many coaching changes last season doesn’t bother him as he begins his tenure.
“I’m pretty excited. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but I’ve met the board and met some of the great people involved with the Generals, so it’s been good so far,” Johns said. “Being with Nanaimo last year, we played them eight times last season and I know what they’ve got. There are some good building blocks here and I think it’s going to be awesome. It might not be as quick as we want the turn around to be but when we all look back on it, it’s going to be great.”
Both Johns and Gravel will have the chance to get their hands on the team from now until the start of the season, which means the blueprint for the Generals will belong to them and they won’t have to try and work with the hand they’ve been dealt.
“We have to get going pretty quick here now with camp coming up in May. We’re going to put more of an emphasis on local talent, guys from Vancouver Island,” Gravel said about recruiting. “We can’t bring in local players who are just average though, we need to go above and beyond to please the fans. We don’t want to have as many imports that we’ve had in the past and we’d really like to have the community relate with these guys.”
Johns will be meeting with players over the next few weeks that dressed for the Generals last year to see where they’re at, which he’s looking forward to.
“We want to show that we’re a no nonsense team and I know that there were some off-ice problems here last year so we’re going to lay down the ground rules from the start,” Johns said. “We’re all going to be on the same page so we won’t have any misunderstandings.”
“We’re gonna get guys in here who want to win and want to have success.”
“We’ll be looking forward to getting these kids out into the community a lot more for the next season too.”
“I think that’s important, as well as working with the bantam and midget rep teams to have a bit of a feeder program going.”