Changing of the guard: Leonard, Swystun step down from Minto coaching roles

Herald File Photo. Tim Leonard and Bryan Swystun watch on from behind the Prince Albert Minto bench earlier this season.

The Prince Albert Mintos will feature a lot of new faces in 2024-25, not only on the ice but behind the bench as well.

It was announced on social media by the team on Friday that head coach Tim Leonard, along with longtime assistant coach Bryan Swystun will be retiring from coaching.

Leonard says he is hopeful that the next head coach of the Mintos continues to build on the program’s strong foundation.

“It’s been the plan all year. I thought this would be my last year and a couple months ago at Christmas we decided to talk it over with family and decided it was time. I’ve been involved in it for over 20 years so it’s time to go. It’s been awesome with the kids and parents so it’s a good time to go and I’m happy with what we’ve done and what we’ve created here and I know they’ll carry it on and it’ll be successful.”

Leonard first began coaching with the Mintos as an assistant coach back in the 2002-03 campaign. He would take over as the head coach at the start of the 2005-06 season and would hold the position through the 2011-12 campaign.

He would go on to spend two seasons as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders. Leonard would also coach for the Beardy’s Blackhawks and Parkland Elks before returning to the head coaching post with the Mintos ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Leonard says the most rewarding part of coaching for him was seeing his players find success at a higher level.

“Seeing the kids move on, that’s our job as coaches here is to get them to the next level. When you see them wearing Melfort, Nipawin, Weyburn or Western Hockey League uniforms and you get to watch them, that’s where I get my enjoyment out of it, that you’ve helped them somewhat along the way. A kid like (Logan) Pickford that basically was a walk-on and made the Victoria (Royals) this year and I think that’s what it’s all about.”

When asked about what he will miss the most about coaching, Leonard says he will miss being a part of a team which he has enjoyed since his playing days.

“I’m going to miss the kids, there’s no doubt about it, and practices. I love practices, games probably not so much, but I love practices, and being around a team. Since I started playing as a little kid, I’ve been around a team, and I’m 61 years old now, and probably did it for about 55 years, so that part will be tough, missing the team, and the teammates, and the players.”

“I enjoyed every minute of it thanks to the people of PA. We’ve had good support over the years, whether it’s board members, fans or guys working the clock and everything like that. It’s been tremendous with the billets and everyone that’s helped us out.”

The Mintos season came to a close with a first round exit to the Swift Current Legionnaires in five games.