A fan favorite, big authority figure and Bears' chief strategist last season - Gordie Dwyer, is coming back as Head Coach to Medvescak bench. NHL's „Bad Boy“, as he was nicknamed last season before coming to Zagreb, justified it by not hesitating to show his discontent with some calls on the ice, by his emotional involvement in the game, and by far, with a strong competitive mentality which he set forth as a cornerstone to build a team on.
“We have a team first mentality. This is our rink and we're here to defend it and we're here to stand up for each other,” were the words head coach Dwyer used after a big victory over future Gagarin Cup Champions, Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Ice Hall. Those same words best describe the way he leads a team, the manner in which he sets up a game plan, and also the character that earned him great many likes and respect.
“It's great and we're very happy that we agreed to terms to bring Gordie back. He has done a great job last season of getting the guys to buy into his system and play with the right character. One thing we know going into the season, is he will have the guys well prepared and ready to start the year. It's also nice for the guys coming back to know he's back and what's going to be expected out of them as well,” Aaron Fox, Medvescak's Sports Director said while announcing the re-sign of Head Coach Dwyer.
For coach Dwyer this will be the second season in the KHL. He led the Bears last season when the playoffs slipped away at the very end. With a total of 78 points he led the Croatian team to the 10th place in the West.
“My first season as Head Coach in the KHL was a rewarding experience. Returning this season with greater knowledge of the League and a further understanding of the challenges within the League will certainly influence our preparation and execution throughout the season,” announced head coach Dwyer whose thoughts are already focused on the new season. The return of part of last season's roster will be a great start.
“We are pleased with the return of some of our core players from last season. There's an understanding of our expectations and experience within that group. Our core players all identify with our concepts of our team identity, of how we have to play collectively everyday to be successful, so there will be continued focus on which we can build on this season.”
With one season of coaching in the KHL behind him, the greatest challenges in the new season will be:
“The start of any new season is exciting! Graduating our players through an intense training camp in preparation for the season is always the first challenge. Continuing to manage our schedule and travel throughout the season in pushing for consistency in our energy and execution remains a challenge for all teams in the KHL. Pushing our team identity, team play structure and concepts will all continue to be a major focus throughout the season.”
His expectations of the players joining training camp are as always:
“I expect our players to report excited, recharged, ready to work and build off last season. Collectively ready to push our compete and fitness levels during camp. Ready to perform and earn their opportunities.”
All that with a goal to form a team that will respond to these expectations:
“I expect our team to play a competitive, exciting brand of hockey that fans appreciate and identify with.”