By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
The current Everett Silvertips know very little about Kevin Constantine from personal experience. Most only know what they have picked up from other sources.
But they sure like what they have heard.
The Western Hockey League team formally announced the hiring of Constantine as head coach Thursday, but rumors of his return had circulated for a week or two. Several players say they have been trying to learn more about the coach who led Everett to the WHL finals in 2003-04, his first season, and to the WHL’s best record in 2006-07, his last.
“I think he’ll be a great fit,” defenseman Ben Betker said. “I heard he’s a disciplinary coach, and on a young team (like Everett) I think that’s good. That’s exactly what we need.”
Constantine’s record in Everett and at other stops in his coaching career “is proof that he’s got results at every level he’s been at,” Betker said. “Yeah, he holds players to high standards, but that’s going to bring out the best in players and that’s going to help us win.”
Forward Manraj Hayer said he was “pretty excited” when he found out Constantine had been hired.
“It’s always nice to get a winning coach into the organization,” he said. “Obviously he had success in Everett in the earlier years, taking the expansion team to the finals, so I’m pretty excited to have him come in and lead us this year.”
Constantine has a reputation for being intense, demanding, strict and, when necessary, loud. But those are reasonable traits, the players say, in the pursuit of winning hockey.
“We’re trying to change the culture around the team, so it’s good to have that accountability,” center Kohl Bauml said. “It’s good that we’re not going to be able to slack off and that there aren’t going to be any shortcuts.
“Last year was kind of a long year,” Bauml added. “There was a lot of rebuilding, a lot of new faces and making sure we had the right personnel. (The team) did a really good job of bringing in the right guys, and now Mr. Constantine is only going to (add to) that. He’s going to demand a lot and that’ll be a good thing for our players.”
“It’s nice to have a coach that you can be friends with, but sometimes you need a coach that lights the fire and gets you going,” agreed Hayer. “(Constantine) demands hard work and intensity, and when a coach strives for that, it’s always a good thing.”
The current Tips wonder if the 2013-14 team could match what Constantine’s first Everett team accomplished — a long playoff run to the WHL championship series.
“I don’t know of any guy who’s not thinking about that right now,” Betker said. “You can only imagine what the possibilities could be. Because we all want to win, right? And if you don’t, you’re on the wrong team.”
Added Betker, “I can’t wait for Day 1 of training camp.”