As he begins the process of getting reacquainted with the Prince Albert Mintos, head coach Tim Leonard is eager to get started with a club that he led to two Telus Cup national titles and three provincial championships during his previous tenures with the club.
“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season,” Leonard said.
“It’s one of those things where everything happens for a reason and the timing was perfect for me to pursue the job when it became available.”
Leonard, who will replace Danton Danielson as the Mintos bench boss, first served as the head coach for 10 seasons before joining the Prince Albert Raiders as an assistant coach in 2012.
He returned to the Mintos prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign and was with the team until January 2016.
During the last two seasons, Leonard was the head coach for the Beardy’s Blackhawks and the Parkland Elks Under-18 AA programs.
“Those were great experiences,” Leonard said.
“I got to go out to smaller communities, meet some amazing people and coach some awesome kids. That got the coaching juices flowing again and got me interested in pursuing a job like this one.”
While it has been over five years since he last stepped behind the bench in the Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League, the same principles that Leonard had in his previous tenures with the Mintos will remain when the 2021-22 season begins.
“There’s a stamp out in the hall that we put in when I was here before that says ‘hard work and discipline,’ which I don’t think will ever change with this team,” Leonard said.
“I think the biggest change though since I was last here is that overall skill has taken over from systems. That’s something that I did at the end of November with the Elks and I could see how much that helped the kids and helped them advance with their development. We will be doing the same thing as we try to help the kids reach the next level.”
Leonard is also familiar with many of the players that are expected to return to the Mintos next year from his time working in the Under-15 league.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about the group,” Leonard said. “From what I understand, it was a fantastic dressing room with guys who want to play with each other.
“It’s going to be a different season with how we get ready due to COVID-19, as we are not going to have our spring camps like we normally do. (Team manager) Kalen (Wright) and the rest of the staff have done a great job of scouting and we’re currently trying to get as many guys nailed down as we can before our fall camp. With that said, you want to leave some spots open before that camp as you never know who will fall into your lap.”
The rest of the Mintos coaching staff for next season is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.