After two competitive seasons behind the Buccaneers bench, a Nanaimo hockey coach is joining a team that all of Canada roots for.
The Nanaimo Buccaneers junior B hockey club announced today that coach and general manager Curtis Toneff is moving on from the team to take an assistant coach position with the Humboldt Broncos.
Toneff, who was previously an assistant coach at the junior A level, said he had only expected to spend two or three seasons coaching junior B in his hometown. He had applied for a couple of junior A head coaching jobs, but when he saw the Broncos advertising for an assistant coach, it felt like an opportunity he needed to pursue.
“I would have been happy to come back for a third [season in Nanaimo] but it feels like the right fit. I got a multi-year deal from them and we’re going to be a young team in Humboldt there,” Toneff said.
The Broncos had a 35-19-3-1 record in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this past season, the team’s first since the 2018 bus crash that killed 16 people, including 10 players. Asked about joining a healing hockey club, Toneff said he didn’t wish to comment, saying he’s going there to do a job.
He did suggest that he knows he’s going to a hockey town.
“All I know is they’re behind the Broncos and they always will be…” Toneff said. “They have a nice, big rink that’s not easy to play in and that’s pretty much what I know.”
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Coach Curtis Toneff moving on from the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers to become assistant coach with the junior A Humboldt Broncos. Here's a photo of him in Broncos colours at Nanaimo's recent Humboldt Strong Street Hockey Tournament… pic.twitter.com/crJBeFaY0r
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) June 5, 2019
He played 33 games in the SJHL as an 18-year-old, but he didn’t know anyone within the Broncos organization when he applied.
“What was a real compliment for me getting the job is it wasn’t a connection that I had, it was just me getting it through straight-up applying and that felt real nice,” he said.
He expressed thanks to the Buccaneers organization, including past owners Brenda and Phil Levesque and current owner Clayton Robinson, and said he’s leaving the club in good hands. Toneff said it was a good situation in Nanaimo in that he was given both independence and support. He led the team to the VIJHL semifinals twice and said there’s some disappointment that the Bucs didn’t reach the finals.
“I thought both years we were right there,” he said. “Timing has to be very good sometimes in hockey for us to make it. At the end of the day, the players got better here and we had fun and they grew as people.”
The Buccaneers have immediately begun advertising for a full-time head coach.
Thank you Nanaimo. https://t.co/gRIT6oWNzq
— Curtis Toneff (@UncleTonny) June 6, 2019