The Red Deer Rebels will have a new coach behind the bench for the 2023-2024 season, Derrick Walser.
Walser, who is the eighth head coach in franchise history, talked about coming to Red Deer with his family. "We did the 3,700 kilometers here, and arrived on the 21st. Honestly, I'm still smiling everyday. It's a dream to get here and be selected by Brent (Sutter) to come here and take over this team. Being here in the west reminds me of home and the people are just genuine and nice people."
The 45-year-old new coach joins the Rebels from the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League where’s he’s been an assistant coach since 2017. He describes his work ethic. "No one is going to work harder than me, it's been in my genetics my whole life from a player to a coach. We're going to play hard, play fast, and we're going to play uptempo hockey. The big thing is work ethic for me. You get what you deserve. I'm a hockey gods believer, if you do the right thing, the hockey gods will reward us with w's."
Walser, who is a native of Glasgow, Nova Scotia, was asked about the difference between coaching the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and the WHL (Western Hockey League). "The game is all the same. I think Ontario has a lot of depth, a lot older, with a lot more players to choose from because of the size of the Province. But, there are good coaches here, and good coaches there. It's going to come down to just getting these guys prepared, getting everyone ready, and getting everyone on the same page."
The Red Deer Rebels training camp starts this week. Players will report for medicals this Thursday morning (Aug. 31) and take part in off-ice fitness testing at Red Deer Polytechnic in the afternoon.
On-ice fitness testing takes place Friday morning at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Walser says he wants to set the tone for camp. "I've been counting down the days to camp, its seems like it's Christmas. We've been putting a lot of emphasis on fitness testing this Summer. The players are going to know that fitness testing is just as important as being on the ice. We're going to be in shape, have a hard camp, and we're going to be ready for opening day."
As far as the regular season goes, Walser expects a lot from his new team.
"I want to do better than they did last year. It's as simple as that. You don't coach to lose, I coach to win every night, and we're going to put our best foot forward, and we're going to work."
The new coach is impressed with the team so far. "Our goal tending is solid, I like the way our d-core is built, and after a couple trades Brent made, our top nine looks very good and I'm excited to see them all in person."
2023 Training Camp wraps up Tuesday, Sept. 5 with the Black and White Game at 7 p.m. at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Fans are invited to attend with admission being a donation for the Red Deer Food Bank.
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