The Beaverlodge Blades have found their man – former NHL’er Phil Sykes has been named head coach of the club.
Sykes played in 456 regular season games in his National Hockey League career, split between the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings. He also competed in 29 NHL playoff games, registering three assists and 29 penalty minutes.
He most recently coached at the high school level in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and looks forward to continuing his work with young men.
“Honestly, couldn’t care about the wins and losses. As long as the kids are having fun and learning something, because I know I’ll be learning something from them,” Sykes said. “We’ll end up winners at the end of the day.”
Sykes, who was born and raised in Dawson Creek, recently moved back to the Peace Region to be with family.
When asked about how he came about the job, it was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
“I wandered into the president’s office, and asked him what was going on and what the position looked like, and what they’re hoping to achieve. Things just kind of fell into place and it was a good opportunity to give more back to hockey again. That’s what I’ve tried to do since I retired,” Sykes explained.
In addition, the Blades announced Matt Smith and Tim Horcoff will join the staff as assistant coaches.
As a player, Sykes played for Team Canada at the 1986 World Hockey Championship, winning a bronze. He also won two NCAA national titles with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, known at the time as the Fighting Sioux, in 1980 and 1982.
According to Sykes, Blades fans can expect a culture shift moving forward.
“Creating a team, creating an energy, creating a respect for themselves and the game and the locker room. And then, just going out and playing with some passion and some intensity, and let the chips fall.”
Late last month it was announced the Beaverlodge Blades would be returning to the North West Junior Hockey League after ceasing operations in December.