A very familiar face is returning behind the bench for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
On Thursday, the team announced that Gord Thibodeau is rejoining the organization as the team’s Head Coach and General Manager – replacing the outgoing Bob Beatty.
“I’m very excited to be back in Fort McMurray and with the Oil Barons,” said Thibodeau in a statement. “It’s a great organization with great people. It’s also a place where I’ve spent most of my coaching career and had some great years. I’m looking forward to coming in, mentoring our younger coaches, and helping this organization achieve long-term success.”
Thibodeau coached the Barons for 11 seasons from 2003 to 2014 and under his guidance, the team reached the AJHL finals five times, winning a title in 2006.
“Coming back to hockey, the Oil Barons are really the only organization I considered coming back to,” added Thibodeau. “After spending some time away from the game over the past year, I’ve gained more perspective. Coaching today’s athlete is different. Today, coaching is about empowering players and having them buy into a common goal. I look forward to coaching the young-athletes on this team.”
Thibodeau brings with him over 25 years of Junior A coaching experience – with 1,700 games under his belt for six different squads.
He also is the AJHL’s all-time leader in wins by a coach with 833.
Team President David Fitzgerald notes Thibodeau’s familiarity with the organization and his understanding of recruiting and coaching players in Fort McMurray made him an ideal candidate.
“Gord’s recent time away from coaching has also allowed him to recharge, spend time with family, and focus on his personal development as a coach. He brings a tremendous amount of organizational knowledge and will be a great mentor to our younger coaches.”
Thibodeau will be back behind the bench when the Barons face-off with the Okotoks Oilers tomorrow night at the Casman Centre.
Puck drop for that contest is 7:30 p.m., and tickets can be purchased through the Oil Barons’ website.