EVERETT — There’s a new atmosphere among the players at Everett Silvertips training camp.
Everett is coming off a morale-sapping season that saw wholesale changes in the organization during the offseason, including the departure of head coach Craig Hartsburg and the arrival of his replacemen
t, Mark Ferner.
This is Everett’s first camp with Ferner at the helm, and although Ferner has remained primarily an observer thus far, the players can already feel the difference.
“I don’t think many of the guys were very happy with the season last year, so I think a fresh start is a good thing,” overage winger Scott MacDonald said. “Everybody’s really excited, lots of new faces, so it’s an exciting time for the team.”
Everett had a difficult 2010-11. It all began when Hartsburg missed most of the first half because of heart surgery, and things never got on track as the Tips finished a disappointing 28-33-7-4 and were swept by Portland in the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
Hartsburg stepped down to become the associate head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Ferner was imported from the British Columbia Hockey League’s Vernon Vipers, where he compiled as strong a junior A resume as possible by winning back-to-back RBC Cups — the Canadian junior A equivalent of the Memorial Cup — before falling in the championship game last season.
Training camp has been the returning players’ first opportunity to interact with Ferner, and their first impression of their new head coach is a positive one.
“I had a good talk with (Ferner) the first day and I really respect him as a coach,” said last season’s leading scorer, Tyler Maxwell, who’s attending Silvertips training camp under his third different head coach. “You look at his record and it speaks for itself. I think the attitude he’s bringing to our team is positive and it’s already taking effect as early as training camp.”
Added MacDonald: “He’s really approachable, and I think that’s a big thing when it comes to having a new coach with a group that’s been together for a while.”
The one player in Everett’s camp who has first-hand experience playing for Ferner is 18-year-old winger Zach McPhee. McPhee suited up for the Vipers last season, so naturally he’s the one Everett’s players have approached to learn more about what to expect from Ferner.
“In the room they ask me how he is as a coach and how he is as a guy,” McPhee said. “But it’s all positive. He’s an awesome coach and he’ll do great things this year.”
The returning players already seem to be buying in. Maxwell noted the attitude around camp is different from years past.
“It’s a positive attitude,” Maxwell explained. “Obviously it’s about having a good work ethic, but blended with a lot of fun. He likes to preach that you want to leave the rink with a smile on your face, and that Comcast Arena is a place where you want to be. I think a lot of guys have taken that to heart.
“I think there’s a stronger will to win right off the bat from previous years,” Maxwell added. “I think sometimes a change, whether it’s coach Ferner coming in or having new trainers and new faces in the building, it’s a good thing for our team. We’re definitely having a good time while we’re training, we’re coming to the rink with a smile on our faces, and everybody’s positive and looking forward to the upcoming season.”
Center Ryan Chynoweth, Everett’s top pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft, had to leave his morning game Thursday after taking a puck to the jaw. Chynoweth originally remained in the game, but later left the bench and was held out of his afternoon scrimmage for precautionary purposes. The 16-year-old Chynoweth, taken 24th overall in 2010, is a strong candidate to grab a roster spot this season. … Friday’s standouts from the scrimmages included 19-year-old center Ryan Harrison and 16-year-old center Carson Stadnyk, who each scored three goals in two games.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.