New Leeds coach Dave Whistle admitted he’s been keen for a return to the UK after being confirmed at the National League side.
The 55-year-old is taking over from Sam Zajac as the club, now under the ownership of Steve Nell, begin to prepare for the new campaign, which should begin in September.
“My wife and I have always wanted to return to the UK and to be involved in a hockey capacity,” he said. “I can offer a lot for both pro and junior development plus it also helps both my sons (Jackson & Brandon Whistle) are in the UK as well.
“I’m very excited to get this opportunity to be the Coach and GM at Leeds and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and getting to know the players.
‼️BREAKING NEWS: Whistle Appointed GM/Head Coach‼️
Leeds Ice Hockey Club is delighted to confirm that, after a thorough recruitment process, Dave Whistle has been appointed the new General Manager/Head Coach of the organisation.
— Leeds Ice Hockey (@Leedsicehockey) May 14, 2021
“I’m also looking to get to know the supporters club as I know they’re a vital part of the club.
“The league is a competitive, well-run league and Brandon played for Telford last year so I watched as many games as I could so I understand what the level of play is like.
“I’m also spending time watching games on YouTube so I can learn even more about the league ahead of September.
“I had some great times in the UK before and was able to win a few trophies which I want to do in Leeds.
“We’ll build an exciting team to watch and we won’t be outworked. We will try to be fast in all areas of the game, and be aggressive on the puck at all times.
Whistle is currently coaching at a hockey academy in Penticton, British Columbia and this role will be his first in the UK since taking over from Brent Pope at Cardiff Devils in 2014, a season that saw them miss the play-offs for the first and so far only time in the Elite League era.
He won the Super League twice as Belfast Giants coach in the early 2000’s, prior to the Elite League era and his experience was a big factor in being recruited for the job at Leeds, which was highlighted by owner Nell.
“Dave is a great fit for our organisation and his previous experience within the UK was a huge factor,” he said. “We need someone on the ground in Leeds from day one and Dave is that man.
“He will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the club and is very keen to be involved in building up a club, not just a hockey team.
“We had some great feedback from some of the top names in UK hockey regarding Dave, and the most important thing was to get a quality person who knows the UK game and is willing to get stuck into the project we have building in Leeds.”