Yawney excited to join Raider coaching staff

Submitted Photo. Conor Yawney will be joining the Raider coaching staff next season.

There is going to be a new face on the coaching staff for the Prince Albert Raiders.

In a team press release on Thursday, the Raiders announced that Conor Yawney will serve as an assistant coach beginning next season.

The 26-year-old was an assistant coach last season with the Amarillo Wranglers in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

“I’m extremely excited.” Yawney said in a phone interview on Thursday. “It’s really a big goal, I’m trying to advance through my career and to be able to go to a town like PA that loves their hockey and that I have a little bit of ties to family and friends as well is pretty special.”

Despite being originally from Chicago, Yawney has family ties to Saskatchewan and has visited Prince Albert before. He was in Hockeytown North when Josh Manson brought the Stanley Cup to the Art Hauser Centre in 2022.

During his time in Amarillo, Yawney spent a significant portion of time working with the Wranglers’ defenceman, something he will look to continue with in Prince Albert.

The Raiders will feature a talented blue line next season with the likes of Utah prospect Terrell Goldsmith, Justice Christensen, Tyrone Sobry, Eric Johnston, Easton Kovacs and Doogan Pederson all eligible to return from last year’s roster. 2023 first overall selection Daxon Rudolph is also looking to join the Raiders as a full-time player next season.

Yawney says he is ready for the opportunity to work with the Raiders.

“It’s extremely exciting to be able to work with really talented players and players that are still young and they’re trying to develop the right habit to complete their aspirations of playing professionally. I’m excited to be able to help them a little bit because through my own hockey background and being able to see the game at the NHL level behind the scenes, see what defensemen coming from junior to jump into the NHL, what some of them, some of the pitfalls are. I feel like I’ll be well equipped to guide the players through that.”

While he was finishing up his studies in university, Yawney got a chance to experience firsthand what it takes to be a coach at the highest level. From January through May 2022, Yawney served as an intern with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

He says he still takes lessons from that internship into his coaching to this day.

“You can go to the coach’s clinic and whatnot and you can get a piece of it, but to be able to get to experience it every day firsthand, (see how) the best of the best conduct themselves, how they talk to the players, how they run their meetings, how everything structured was immensely valuable. That’s something I’ve taken with me everywhere I’ve been.”

Yawney will join the Raider coaching staff alongside assistant coach Ryan McDonald and veteran head coach Jeff Truitt.

Yawney says he is looking forward to coaching with Truitt, who has coached at the highest levels of junior hockey throughout his career, including multiple trips to the Memorial Cup.

“I’m extremely excited, I’m extremely humbled that I’m going to have that opportunity to work with someone as experienced as Jeff. I’m really excited to just be able to be a sponge and learn everything I can and use him to be able to build myself into a better coach and build a winning hockey team in PA.”

In a press release, Truitt says he is looking forward to Yawney being able to help bring some fresh ideas into the coaching staff.

“Everything here starts with our culture and starts within our room. He’ll learn that from myself, Ryan, and the players. He’ll learn our style of play as well. He’s familiar with some of the background of our team, but he’ll get more and more familiar with the way we do things. We know that he’s going to bring some ideas on how to develop our game a little bit more. It’s a community effort, but when you have a guy with his foresight and how he knows the game, he’s going to bring a lot to our team.”

The Raiders also announced that Keaton Ellerby will not return to the coaching staff next season.