GRAVENHURST — Before the 2012-13 season begins, the South Muskoka Shield is going to have to score a new head coach.
‘In Gravenhurst, it wasn’t just the players. I met a lot of great people and there was always great support for the team...’
Dallyn Telford, 35, the club’s third head coach and the only head coach to guide the club to a Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League (GMHL) Russell Cup championship, is moving on. Team owner and general manager Gord Carey said it was news he knew was likely on the way, but that made it no less painful.
“We had talked about it before the end of the season and he’s just made it official,” Carey said. “It is really too bad, I really enjoyed working with him over the years and they (the players) looked up to him.”
“He’s a great coach and he was great for the team,” Carey added. “I support him totally and I know I’m going to miss him.”
“The time has come,” Telford said, explaining he is moving on to Innisfil, south of Barrie, to begin a new life with his partner. “My first game (as coach of the Shield) was October 8, 2008 and since then I’ve learned a lot of things from a lot of people. There’s just so many people to thank.”
“I know it’s going to be strange when the season starts and I’m not behind the bench,” he added. “But you never know, you might see me behind the visitor’s bench in Gravenhurst one day.”
Telford said it is a happy time, but a sad one as well, as he will be leaving behind his back-bench Shield stomping grounds after many successful years. He said he came in a little raw as a coach, but with the championship season and three straight years of making the final rounds, the experience quickly mounted.
“I think one thing we can all be proud of is that in the last four years, I do believe the Shield had the best record of any junior team on the continent,” Telford said. “Coaching is a tough job though; when Gord first hired me we joked that one day he was going to probably have to fire me too, so I guess it’s nice to walk away on my own accord. As a coach you often don’t get to make that decision.
“I love it though (coaching); it’s my passion and hockey has been my passion since I put on my first skates on my second birthday. It’s a tough profession, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and when I’m down there, (Innisfil) my plan is to get back into it.”
He said the two straight game-seven Russell Cup final losses following the championship year “still sting a bit, but they’re good memories, too.”
“We have a lot of great memories together; the best part of being a coach is watching them (the players) grow,” he added. “And in Gravenhurst, it wasn’t just the players. I met a lot of great people and there was always great support for the team that made it all worthwhile, not just in the four walls of the locker room, but from outside in the community, too.”
Carey said he hopes to have the position filled fairly quickly as come mid-May there are the annual general managers meetings and the GMHL entry draft.
“I’d like to have someone in place to take there with me,” he said.