COVENTRY BLAZE will have a new face behind the bench next season as the club announced that former Blaze player Danny Stewart will take over from Chuck Weber for the 2016/17 season.
Stewart previously spent four seasons with the Blaze between 2006 and 2010 – winning the Elite League Championship on three occasions, a Challenge Cup and a Knockout Cup.
Prior to moving to the UK, Stewart spent time playing at Miami University in Ohio for four seasons before moving to the Fort Wayne Comets in the UHL for two-and-a-half seasons.
A quick stint at the Danbury Thrashers was then followed by his EIHL debut for the Coventry Blaze in 2006.
Stewart played for the Blaze until 2010 where he then tasted his first experience of coaching at the Newcastle Vipers, and then the Fife Flyers for five seasons.
Speaking to The Observer on Wednesday (April 27) morning shortly before the official announcement was made, Stewart said moving to the Blaze has been a smooth transition and he’s looking forward to bringing his elements to the table.
“I’m familiar with Coventry having spent four very successful years at the Skydome and today marks a new era for Coventry,” said Stewart.
“This is my first year as a full time coach and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“There’s plenty to work with and the foundation that Chuck (Weber) has left is great, it’s now up to me to bring in my own element and draft in players that compliment each other.”
The 37-year-old Canadian, who has played 560 EIHL games during his ten year stint in the UK, added that he wants to make the Blaze a more consistent team with the aim of ditching patches of strong or weak stretches.
He added: “If you don’t have high aims then why be in the league.
“I think if we are to reach playoff finals weekend again we have to be a more consistent club week in week out and can’t afford to have strong or weak stretches of form.
“If we can bring some consistency to the table then we’ll perform well and it helps having players used to the league in our squad, that will play to our advantage.
“When there’s a good atmosphere in the locker room the sky is the limit – we don’t want to draft in players who are playing for themselves, we want team players that will look out for each other and make the fans proud.”
Blaze captain Ashley Tait, who starred for Great Britain last week in Croatia when the national side lost out on promotion to the second tier of world hockey in heartbreaking circumstances, said Danny’s appointment is a great opportunity for him.
“Danny has been involved in the coaching side of things at Newcastle and Fife where he may not have had the greatest tools at his disposal with all due respect to both of those clubs.
“At Coventry we train four times and week and play on weekends so there’s little time for rest.
“Danny knows the ownership well and wants to make his mark.”
Director of hockey, James Pease, added: “Danny’s addition will be fantastic for the club.
“He’s been in the coaching side of things for six years and a handful of the players we have, have played with him previously.
“We need to be in the top half of the league this season, make the playoff finals weekend and we want to aim for Challenge Cup glory – that’s something all at the club are very keen about.
“We’re up for the challenge.”