The Nottingham Panthers have appointed a new Head Coach in Gary Graham who joins adding a wealth of experience and knowledge to the managerial side of the club.
The 43-year-old American who is yet to coach in Europe, was most recently Head Coach of USHL side Omaha Lancers, and previous to that, enjoyed a lengthy spell in various capacities at Fort Wayne Komets as well as taking a brief outing in charge at Beijing, for Chinese VHL side ORG, before joining Indy Junior Fuel’s U16 & U18 development sides in his home state of Indiana.
On his announcement at Nottingham, Graham told fans what to expect on the club’s twitter, stating “I want to coach exciting hockey and that’s very fast in transition, we like to play with the puck, the best defence is in the offensive zone”.
Graham continued “The things that we really focus on is being quick to check, trying to check teams very quickly, we take away time and space.”
On his preferred style he followed “I can tell you this, the fans expect a physical, in your face type of team that embrace the villain role, when we go on the road, I want teams to hate us, I want them to boo us, I want them to not like us one bit, and when teams come in to our home, I want them to fear playing in our rink.
“I think if our fanbase can rally around us, we need to make our rink very imposing and intimidating for visiting teams to come into”.
On speaking to the clubs new CEO, Omar Pacha, about Graham’s arrival in the UK, he said on the reasons for bringing in a man who’s coached since starting out with Indiana Ice in 2008 “Ultimately the main thing is his pedigree in the sport, and how he’s worked his way up in the coaching world, starting in the system and working his way up to Head Coach at the SPHL level (with Pensacola Ice Flyers) and then coaching the Fort Wayne Komets who are one of the most prestigious clubs in North America minor leagues, and the last two years in coaching junior and young kids, I felt their was a good mixture in his experience as a coach”.
“But although his pedigree is certainly up there, it was probably more the person that we are really happy to have, how he is as a human being and his values, I can’t speak enough about his character, but for us we clicked. We did a handful of interviews, but you kind of stop there when you know he’s the right guy for our situation, so we’re really happy to have him and I think he’ll be a great fit for our organisation.”
Both Graham and Pacha will play a major part in the clubs rebuilding process following a disappointing last season in finishing fourth in the Elite League and failing to make the playoff finals weekend, part of that rebuild will be to replace players, with Josh Tetlow announcing he’ll be leaving to play in Europe next season, a few more outs, and ins, could highly likely follow.
*Main image @PanthersIHC Gary Graham joins having over fourteen years coaching experience in the USA.