The Nanaimo Buccaneers, in a way, are getting back to where it all started.
The city’s junior B hockey club announced this week that Brad Knight has been hired as the team’s new coach, general manager and director of hockey operations.
Knight was the Buccaneers’ first-ever coach as he was behind the bench for the team’s inaugural 2012-13 season, as well as the following season.
“When you start something, you always keep an eye on it,” he said. “The opportunity arose that there was a spot for someone to help guide it along.”
Knight was slated to coach the North Island Silvertips major bantam team, but that provincewide league involves much lengthier road trips and Knight said he couldn’t pass up the chance to be able to spend more time with his family while coaching in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
The Buccaneers were coached by team owner Clayton Robinson in 2019-20 and finished with a 14-23-5-6 record.
“There’s going to be the inevitable culture change, slightly, with the way I like to do things,” Knight said. “Some of the kids will have the opportunity to come back. We won’t be returning everybody.”
He wants the Buccaneers to be a younger team, with more local Nanaimo players. He said the goal needs to be developing young men to go into the workforce, advance their education, become coaches themselves or go on to the junior A or major junior hockey.
“I still believe that’s the mandate of the organization, is to help kids develop,” Knight said. “I think loading up with 19- and 20-year-olds for junior B glory isn’t necessarily the focus. If we have a good enough team come the trade deadline … and we’re in the mix, that’s all I could ask; you get to the playoffs, anything can happen.”
He said he wants the Bucs to be not just a hockey team, but a hockey program that players seek out as a developmental opportunity.
“It’s a good program, it’s got a history of moving guys along,” Knight said. “I think there’s some things that we’ll work on to try to do a little bit better.”
While the pandemic has kept players off the ice this spring, Knight said they’ve got more time than ever to keep in shape and he anticipates hockey season will happen pretty close to normal by the time it rolls around in September.
“It might be slightly off of what it was, but we’re not playing three-on-three with seven people in the rink, that’s not going to happen,” he said.