Nell: Time is right for change

Steve Nell has revealed the new name and logo for Leeds (PHOTO: Yorkshire Post)

New Leeds owner Steve Nell is hopeful of having a new coach in next month.

It’s all change at the club, with Nell coming in and the changing of the club’s name from Leeds Chiefs to an as yet undecided moniker.

Plus the new regime has meant Sam Zajac, their player-coach in 2019/20, has decided to leave and does so in the best of terms.

Nell, though, has an idea of when he wants to get a new man in, but is relaxed about the terms in how they’ll come.

“We’re looking for a head coach, but we can be flexible on that,” Nell told British Ice Hockey. “It could be a player-head coach or just a head coach.  It could even be a GM-head coach, but I’m waiting to see what we get in terms of expressions of interest.

“We’ve had a number of enquiries already on this, but we’ll let that run for another week or so before we can get into an interview process.

“We’re giving it until next Friday and then I’ll have the job description ready to share with people.  It’ll work around people’s commitments, but I’d like to think we’ll have someone in by the middle of May – about three weeks away.

“It might go quicker than that if the right person jumps out, but we certainly can’t go past May without having someone in.

“I’ve had a number of good conversations with Sam Zajac and he’s looking at another career path and that was before we took the club over.

“He’s got plans outside of hockey he wants to pursue, but has expressed an interest in coming back to play so we would be interested in that.  He’s done a good job, but it’s his choice.”

Nell, who also owns Swindon Wildcats, is positive about his new challenge after leaving Wildcats in the hands of his son, Aaron, now combining his coaching duties with GM.

And he explained why the club is changing its name, after one full season, but a season where they spent much of it on the road because of delays in moving into the rink and the early shutdown due to the pandemic.

“The situation in Swindon was just what it had been,” he added. “Aaron had been doing all the GM duties and looking after the team so it was easy for me to take a step back and I’ll still oversee things that go on, but I’m not needed on a day to day basis.

Nell handed over the reins at Swindon to son Aaron as he sought a new challenge (PHOTO: Yorkshire Post)

“From there, I was looking for something to do and had my eye on Leeds for a couple of years and gave it a lot of thought during the pandemic and felt the time was right.

“I sent an email asking about any opportunities and it all took two or three weeks so I’m happy to be involved.

“I’ve met a lot of people around the club and there’s a lot of goodwill around, with the supporters club and the volunteers and I’m excited about the potential.

“The reason behind the name change is basically starting with a clean slate.  A new club and they haven’t been going that long so it seemed like the right time to do it now.

“We haven’t got a final decision on the name yet, but I’ve been speaking to lots of people involved last year, plus players and getting their opinion and we’ll make a decision on what that name will be.

“Preparations start for the new season now basically and the challenge is putting it all together and linking the dots up.”

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