Stewart backs assistant for coaching role

Danny Stewart is coming up on five years in charge at Coventry Blaze (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

Coventry Blaze coach Danny Stewart sees no reason why his assistant Dayle Keen couldn’t become a coach in his own right in the future.

The pair are reunited and working together again for the Elite Series as Blaze look to make as big an impression as possible on the competition.

And the 42-year-old paid tribute to the Scot, saying he makes him better as a coach with the role he performs.

“’Keeno’ has been great for this organisation and does a lot of good things on and off the ice,” Stewart said on this week’s BIH Show. “He makes me better at my job by dealing with areas that maybe aren’t my strengths.

“He loves the challenge and basically came from coaching kids to this role and it’s great for him to learn at this level as a British coach.

“I think he could quite possibly go on and become a coach in his own right.  He’s getting better every day at what he does.  He’s learning more and more, plus he’s involved with the GB Under 20’s and will pick up more there.

Could Dayle Keen be in charge in his own right? Coventry boss Danny Stewart thinks so (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

“I know him and I see no reason why he wouldn’t make the step up in the future.”

Stewart will have been in charge at the Blaze for five years on 26th April and has taken the club who were skirting in and out of play-off places to a team competing in the top half of the table in that time.

While the premature end of the 2019/20 season leaves a feeling of ‘what might have been’ for a team who were third at the time, on form and ready to seriously challenge for the title, it showed just how much he has come on as a coach.

And he revealed the biggest things he’s learned and had to focus in a coaching career that started at Newcastle Vipers in far from ideal circumstances in 2010, followed by five years as an assistant to Todd Dutiaume at Fife Flyers before replacing Chuck Weber in 2016.

“It’s been a long decade of coaching,” he added. “I had a couple of turbulent years at the start with the last year in Newcastle and that first year in Fife.

“I think I’ve come a long way in that time and the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome, certainly in my early time with Coventry is the emotion of it.

“Being a player-coach with Newcastle and with Fife, I had the ability to go on to the ice and finish a check or influence the game in some way.

“On the bench, I’m not saying I’m quiet, but battling those emotions and keeping them in check too and everything’s about the players as a coach.  Nothing should be about you.

“Recruiting is another big thing I’ve learned as well in Coventry over the last couple of years, plus managing players on a day-to-day basis in era.  These aren’t the kind of guys you can yell at and I think a lot of other coaches will agree with that.

“Each guy is different in their own way and it’s about getting to know them individually and managing them to the best of your ability.

“I’d like to think I’ve matured in the last few years as well.

The BIH Show is available to watch on YouTube and can be downloaded as an audio podcast via your preferred podcast provider.  Search for “British Ice Hockey”, subscribe and don’t miss an episode.

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