Back in November, the Giants hired Keith McCambridge to be their new associate coach.
McCambridge is an experienced coach who has a long track record of success in the ECHL as well as AHL. McCambridge is ready for the opportunity to coach in the WHL and ensure the Giants can build on their recent success.
The opportunity to coach the Giants:
When the Giants associate coach position became available, McCambridge jumped on the opportunity. What drew him to Vancouver was their reputation of being a high-class organization. “The organization itself is obviously a well-known organization. Once I had an opportunity to talk to Barclay and Michael Dyck and see what passionate and knowledgeable hockey people they are, for me it was an exciting decision. When you look at places to grow as a coach and help young players, the Vancouver Giants were definitely number one on the list.”
“I’m honoured to join the Giants coaching staff. The Giants are one of the premiere junior hockey franchises in the world. I’m excited to start working with the players and the coaching staff to help maintain that standard both on the ice + in the community.” pic.twitter.com/elMEbnAErV
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) November 13, 2020
Returning to the WHL:
Although McCambridge has never coached in the WHL, he does have a history of success as a player in the mid-’90s. The big defenseman from Manitoba played four years for Swift Current and was part of the Broncos team that made the Memorial Cup in 1993. In 1995, McCambridge was traded and won the Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers. This experience is important to have on a coaching staff. McCambridge hopes to pass on his knowledge and experience to the next wave of WHL superstars.
“Some of the things you learn when you are playing in high-pressure tournaments like that is dealing with all the outside noise and focusing on the game. Playing in that ’95 Memorial Cup gave me a better understanding of what those players have to go through once they get to the Memorial Cup and on top of that what a hard journey it is. ”
Connections to Vancouver:
This is not the first time McCambridge has worked with an organization. From 2009-2011, McCambridge coached the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. At the time, they were the farm team of the Vancouver Canucks. This allowed McCambridge to get to know the landscape of the media, as well as get a first-hand look at how passionate the fans in Vancouver are when it comes to hockey.
“That was during the time of their long playoff run so we as an organization spent a lot of time in Vancouver coaching the extra players who were in and out of the lineup during that playoff run. I think of all those guys like a young Chris Tanev when he first came through, Eddie Lack was another young player, Kevin Connauton as well. A lot of guys came through that pipeline. I did get to spend some time in Vancouver to see the crowds and hear the passion that goes along with such a great city. I was very grateful to be apart of those playoff runs with the Canucks.”
Lessons from the AHL:
McCambridge has spent the last decade coaching in the AHL. During that time, McCambridge spent time with the Canucks, Jets, and Rangers organizations. He brings a wealth of experience to the Giants on how to coach and develop young players. Some of the players McCambridge has helped to develop are Josh Morrissey, Alex Georgiev, Chris Tanev, and former Giants captain Brett Festerling. Although the ages and development levels are different, McCambridge is confident his experience coaching young AHL players can translate to the WHL.
— Hartford Wolf Pack (@WolfPackAHL) February 21, 2018
“I have coached younger guys because of the situation where the Winnipeg Jets were in their development curve. The same with the New York Rangers. We have had really young teams in Hartford. They had lots of young players come through like Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson so I am very familiar with coaching younger guys and knowing what their needs are on and off the ice. For me, that transition will not be as far stretched as your traditional jump between the AHL and junior hockey.”
Taking over the Defence:
McCambridge will work mostly with the defense and penalty kill. He is excited to work with this young up and coming Giants D.
“What I have been able to observe is what high-quality men they are. The leadership that comes out of Alex (Kannok-Leipert) when talking through zoom calls and text messages really impressed me. Watching how he represents the pride of the team is an important part of a team having success. To have a player like that is a real benefit to the young players. On my side of things, you have knowledge that you want to pass onto these players. Having knowledge is one thing but being able to apply it is the important part. Making sure that the message is clear with these younger players and showing them what needs to happen in certain situations is a huge part of coaching. When I look at the back end, I see exciting players. To see those players come to practice and get better is something you want to see.”
Coach McCambridge is Here to Win:
Giants fans should be excited for the energy and knowledge that McCambridge is bringing to the team. He understands what it takes to win in the WHL, and wants to ensure another championship comes back to Vancouver. This Giants team has all the potential to be a contender this year. With the additions behind the bench, as well as the next wave of superstars ready to take the next step, teams should be worried about facing the Giants this year. If the interview with McCambridge is any indication, look for him to be very vocal and passionate behind the bench.