Strachan: Panthers are in great hands

(PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

Retiring Nottingham Panthers assistant coach Rick Strachan says the team are in great hands under Director of Hockey Guillaume Doucet.

The Winnipeg native has decided to call it a day after four decades in the sport, ending a successful career as the second in command at Panthers.

While he admits the decision to walk away is a tough one, he says he’ll remain a fan of the club as they look forward to the day they can return to action.

“I’ve had so much success and met so many nice people, but I’m getting too old to ride that bus,” Strachan told Nottingham Panthers TV.

“Last season didn’t finish the way anyone wanted it, but I think the team is in great hands.  Guillaume Doucet works incredibly hard and is very knowledgeable.  He knows what it takes to win.

“The thought of retirement had been in my head for a while and I had hoped this year would be my last year, but there is no ‘this year.’ Plus I’ve figured out that weekends are fun again.

“One thing I didn’t expect was for my last involvement to be heading over to Belfast in a hurricane, getting there, staying the night then coming straight home after the season was shut down.

“I’ll always be a fan and once things can return to normal, be able to come along and cheer on the boys and give my support.  I hope they’re all successful and have long careers.”

Strachan first arrived in the UK in 1990, joining the Panthers after a season in Manitoba and a career at that point which involved a spell in Finland with HIFK and Spengler Cup success with Canada.

He never left and went on to play for Humberside Seahawks, Haringey Racers, Milton Keynes Kings, Basingstoke Bison, Cardiff Devils, Solihull MK Kings and Hull Stingrays and the GB national team.

While he dabbled as a player-coach at various spells, he took over Stingrays in 2004 and also coached the GB, taking Hull into the Elite League in 2006 before leaving them three years later.

He returned behind the bench in 2011 as assistant to Corey Neilson at Nottingham Panthers and won multiple trophies, include five Challenge Cups and a Continental Cup.

In 2019, he replaced Rich Chernomaz as head coach for three months, but returned to the number two role when Tim Wallace arrived that summer.

He recalled his early relationship with Neilson when he replaced David Graham and how it blossomed into a partnership that led to great times for the Panthers.

“In the beginning, when I came back to work with Corey, we were total opposites,” he added. “His brain worked one way and I worked another, but he listened to me.  Not all the time certainly, but we saw the game differently.

“For some reason, it just worked.  We enjoyed working with each other and became great friends as well.  It wasn’t always easy, but it clicked and we had a lot of fun.

“It was a challenge to take charge of the team mid-season when Rich Chernomaz left, but it was something I wanted to try.

“We had some success, even if it didn’t finish on the best of notes, but I have no regrets.  I worked hard and the guys worked hard for me, but it wasn’t to be.

“There were so many highlights and every trophy was a highlight.  No matter if it was a Challenge Cup or a play-off weekend, there were all special.

“The triple crown was the best one though.  It was a great team with a lot of good guys that were easy to coach, but we had great times winning the Continental Cup and the CHL runs too.

“Those moments are stored in my brain forever and when you walk away from the sport, there’s going to be regrets.  I’ll always be able to talk to the guys and it’ll be tough, but it’s time for me.”

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