|Saying goodbye to Ryan Huska. (Left to right, Lambert/Huska/Bartel|
- It was an emotional press conference this afternoon as the Kelowna Rockets officially said goodbye to seven year head coach Ryan Huska and then introduced Dan Lambert as his successor. Why was it so emotional? For a junior coach to spend seven seasons with one team, 12 if you include his time as an assistant to both Marc Habscheid and Jeff Truitt for five seasons, you become a part of the fabric of the organization.
- Even General Manager Bruce Hamilton showed emotion when thanking Huska for the time he had spent with the organization. "I thought a year ago he was ready but he didn't think he was ready. I knew as soon as the opportunities started coming this year, and the number of teams that contacted me to talk to him where lots, he probably was in a position to pick where he wanted to go. If you would have asked me a month ago I thought the Flames would be the last team he would go to. I think they (Flames) have a great plan and he is a big part of it."
- Huska too was full of emotion when he stood at the podium to say his thank yous. "It is tough and it just isn't the hockey side of things and that is why it was tougher..you are in a way leaving family. When you throw family into the picture at any time emotions get involved. We have grown up with this organization. I have learned to coach here. Bruce has been really supportive of us along the way and has done so much for our family that I can't really express right now. Standing up at that podium was a challenge, that's for sure".
- Dan Lambert has no previous head coaching experience, outside of his position as head coach of Team West at the Under 17's last December. But true to form, Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton hired or promoted from within. He did it with Jeff Truitt. He did it with Ryan Huska and now he did it again with Dan Lambert. "Five years ago I thought I knew a lot. When you see the detail that Ryan Huska puts into a daily schedule and then the detail of coaching, it is pretty amazing. I certainly learned from a great guy and a guy I want to emulate in the future. It feels pretty special. It is with mixed emotions to see Ryan leave and to know that same camaraderie won't be there. It won't mean it can't start from new, but certainly I am excited, thrilled and honoured".
- The most composed of the three who spoke at the press conference was Lambert. But even he too admitted it was bitter sweet to see Huska move on. "It is a day of celebration for me but you do have those mixed emotions because over the last five years I have probably spent more time with Ryan Huska then I have my wife, and that's the truth. You do create a bond and a relationship that is pretty special. There isn't to much Ryan Huska doesn't know about Dan Lambert and Dan Lambert about Ryan Huska. The trust that we have built over the years is pretty special", Lambert added.
- Lambert's next order of business will be to hire an assistant coach. Let's just say the phone will be ringing off the hook at the Rockets office over the next couple of days.