Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Red Wings name 15-year NHL vet as new head coach

Article and photo courtesy Greg Nikkel/Weyburn Review

A 15-year veteran of the NHL, Rich Pilon, was named the new head coach for the Weyburn Red Wings, and was introduced by team president Brent Stephanson at a news conference on Monday at Crescent Point Place.

Pilon played most of his career with the New York Islanders, spending 12 years with them as a defenceman, along with stints with the New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues.

He promises to introduce an ethic of teamwork to the Red Wings, and said he wants the players prepared to come to the rink to work hard every game.

“I was looking for a new opportunity I could be committed to. I wanted to get into a position to put my stamp on a team,” he said. “There’s no science to it, everyone knows what they have to do.”

Pilon said he’ll want players to come prepared to work hard, to pull on their work boots and ready to work as a team.

“This is an opportunity for me as much as for the players. I do a lot of skill development. The biggest thing is I’m looking for players who are going to be committed to the team,” he said, adding he’s all about the logo, not looking at the name on the back of the jersey.

“I want guys who will be respectful. We may not win every game, but we’re going to put our work boots on and work hard for every game,” said Pilon.

“My philosophy with players is simple. I believe you have to be willing to work hard and to work for the team,” he added, noting he will be mentored along the way by coaches he knows from the NHL and WHL, such as Barry Trotz, coach of the New York Islanders.

“He’s such a good guy … I know I can call him about anything. My pipeline is there because of my relationships at the professional level, and you know, the ice is the same, whether it’s junior hockey or the NHL. All coaches are teaching the same thing, and my thing is to develop the players,” said Pilon.

In introducing Pilon, Stephanson said the Red Wings had over 60 applications for the coaching job before the board made the choice of Pilon for the position.

“Rich will be a lot more involved in the community and attending different events for the team,” he said.

Pilon was a seventh-round draft pick by the Islanders, and he suited up for them from 1988 to 1996, and played from 1999 to 2001 with the Rangers, and for the 2001-02 season with the Blues.

His son Garrett was drafted by the Washington Capitals, and will be playing for the Hershey Bears of the AHL until he is called up to play for the Caps.