The Sudbury Wolves have announced that their new head coach is Craig Duncanson, a former team member and captain with the club, as well as coach of the Laurentian Voyageurs Men’s hockey team for almost a decade.
The new head coach was revealed at a media event on July 14, in what was notably the first in-person Wolves event since the beginning of the pandemic 16 months ago.
The style of play he hopes to bring to the Wolves organization?
“We'll be a fast-paced team that competes hard,” Duncanson told Sudbury.com. “When we don't have the puck, we're making sure we get it back in a hurry. For lack of a better buzzword, we need to forecheck all over the ice. We want the puck.”
Duncanson’s addition to the team means that the coaching staff for the 2021-2022 season will all be Sudbury locals and Wolves alumni, consisting of associate coach Darryl Moxam, assistant Zack Stortini and goalie coach Al Valiquette.
It’s an opportunity that Duncanson said is “absolutely incredible.”
Duncanson is not only a former player and captain of the Sudbury Wolves, but he was, at the time, the Wolves player drafted highest overall when he signed with the Los Angeles Kings in 1985.
Duncanson started his coaching career with the Laurentian Voyageurs shortly after finishing his professional playing career.
After an initial short stint with Laurentian, Duncanson pursued coaching opportunities with the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget AAA, Nickel City Sons U16 AAA, NOHA All-Stars, and Team NOHA, returning to the Voyageurs in 2013, where he would serve as Head Coach for the next seven seasons.
The Laurentian hockey teams, both men’s and women’s, as well as the varsity swim teams, were all cut as part of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, (CCAA) the process that came into effect after the university filed for insolvency.
Duncanson also represented Canada as assistant coach leading his team to a Bronze Medal win over the Czech Republic during the 2017 Winter Universiade Games (University Olympics).
He said this background offers him a balanced approach to hockey.
“I think you learn every day regardless of where you are,” said Duncanson. “But I would like to think I'm a better coach, a little more rounded person after eight years of working with young men.
Duncanson also said his focus is on continued learning. “Careers are short, don't stop learning every day, “ said Duncanson. “Whether you're in school or not in school. There's lessons to be learned every day.”
Wolves VP and General Manager, Rob Paineau, said he had many reasons to choose Duncanson as head coach, not the least of which is his ties to Sudbury.
“It's huge and it doesn't happen all the time,” Papineau said of the hometown staff. You’ve got to have the right timing and the right fit, and what we've got now, it's outstanding. We've got a local head coach, I know that they (the players) are going to take to Craig really quickly.”
Papineaus said that of course, it wasn’t just the local aspect, but the reputation Duncanson has built for himself as a coach, a teacher and a role model. Papineau references Duncanson's record with the Laurentian Voyageurs.
“Every game was close, every game was competitive, and it’s the structure that his teams played, with the discipline they played with,” said Papineau.
He also notes that everyone he has spoken to about Duncason has nothing but good things to say.
“When you talk to the players, you talk to the people at the university, the way he treated them, and the way they bought into what he believed in, those were just things that were too attractive for us,” said Papineau.
The Sudbury Wolves 2021-2022 season begins on October 8, against the Peterborough Petes.
You can find more information and the Sudbury Wolves Schedule at sudburywolves.com.