Flyers announce new bench boss

Ken Pearson (right) announces Steve Mullin (left) as the new head coach of the Winkler Flyers. Pearson will remain general manager of the team. (THOMAS FRIESEN, Winkler Times)

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The Winkler Flyers have made big changes at the top.

Head coach and general manager Ken Pearson announced that he is dropping half of that title, passing it on to Steve Mullin at a press conference at the Winkler Arena Monday, August 13.

Mullin is not a new face in the Flyers locker room. A former Flyer himself, he was an assistant coach with the team for the last six years.

“I’m excited about it, and looking forward to it,” said Pearson. “Steve’s put in his time and done a good job at preparing himself for his first head coaching opportunity.”

Mullin says he is excited to take on the role, and glad Pearson is still playing a large role with the team.

“We’ve been working together for the last six years here,” he said.

“What Kenny has built here as far as the culture is concerned, the types of players he’s bringing in is setting me up to be successful right off the hop.”

For Mullin, the fact that he can take on a head coaching role in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League close to home is special.

“Ultimately, I can walk into my dream job here,” said Mullin. “I can coach close to home, in an area where I know a lot of people and raise my family.”

Mullin spoke about his philosophy as a head coach at this level.

“What I want to be as a coach is (someone) that can make a team greater than the sum of its parts.”

“Ken is going to be able to recruit and has been able to recruit a ton of really talented kids. What my job will end up being is taking on those talents and making them work together so that as a team, we’re better than those players are.”

The 2018-19 season is around the corner, and the team will be in action with training camp before the end of the month. Likely dressing 13 players with MJHL experience, Pearson and Mullin say they will draw from around 70 players to round out the squad.

“You show me that your habits and work ethic are there, and something we can work with and want to work with on this team, and let your talents take it from there,” said Mullin.

“We’re not taking the 25 guys who can score the most goals… or the 25 guys who hit the hardest, or anything like that. You gotta put it all together and make it the best team that can go out there and compete night in and night out, and ultimately be the best of the 11 teams in the MJHL.”

The Flyers’ home opener is September 22, when they take on the Neepawa Natives at the Winkler Arena.