By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips players arrived at Comcast Arena on Tuesday expecting a normal practice day.
Instead, they found their world turned upside down.
Everett coach Mark Ferner and assistant coach Chris Hartsburg were fired Tuesday, with general manager Garry Davidson taking over behind the bench for the remainder of the season.
And the coaching change caught the players completely off guard.
“It’s a little surprising,” Everett overage winger Ryan Harrison said. “Coming here today we didn’t expect anything was going to happen. But it did, it’s Garry’s team as he’s the GM, so what he wants is going to happen. We all have to follow that now, and hopefully we’ll all come together here. Everyone has the same goal, which is to win games and make the playoffs.
“Ferns and Hartsy are great guys, great coaches, and we’re all going to miss them.”
Ferner had spent the previous season-and-a-half in charge, and Hartsburg was in his fourth season with the Tips. Assistant Mitch Love was the only member of the coaching staff retained.
“Like everyone else, I was a bit surprised,” Tips defenseman Nick Walters said. “I didn’t have any idea. I saw Ferns this morning — I didn’t talk to him, I just saw him for a short minute and went about my business in the back. Then we had a team meeting and Chris and Mark weren’t there. I think we were all a little bit surprised, but there’s nothing we can do about. We just have to come to the rink every day and get better as a team.”
The change comes at a somewhat surprising time. Everett is in last place in the U.S. Division, but the youthful Tips have gotten better results of late, winning three of five since the holiday break and five of their past nine overall.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” center Manraj Hayer said. “We went paintballing yesterday as a team, all the coaches were there, and then we come in today and it’s a total blindside.
“I thought coach Ferner did a great job with us,” Hayer added. “But it’s a business and things like this happen.”
This is the second straight season Everett has undergone major change mid-season. General manager Doug Soetaert was dismissed last February.
“We’re surprised, maybe a little overwhelmed,” Walters said about the mood of the team. “But just like last year with Doug, we’ll all adapt eventually. It’s part of the game, it’s the business part of things, and it’s part of a rebuild. It happens in the game of hockey, it won’t be the first or last time.”
Davidson said the primary reason for the coaching change was a difference in philosophy between himself and Ferner, with Davidson wanting the team to play a more offensive style. Therefore, the players are expecting changes in the way they play.
“It’s going to be interesting the next few days, and with (Thursday’s) trade deadline coming, who knows what’s really going to happen?” Harrison said. “The main changes today were that Garry was preaching about offense. He wants to score more goals, so that’s what we worked on today.”
Said Hayer: “We’re kind of down. But it’s a business, though, and these things happen. We still have to be ready for these upcoming games this weekend.”
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.