Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Q&A with RGV Killer Bees Head Coach Chris Brooks

Recently the Central Hockey League sat down with Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees Head Coach to get a feel of how the off-season was going after the team failed to make the playoffs by 4 points over the Corpus Christi Icerays who finished 5th in the South.

In three years with the Killer Bees, he's 62-51-15 with little playoff success, the last time the Killer Bees made the postseason was in 2009 where after winning the Play In, the Brahmas swept them in 4 games straight.

Look for more coaches interviews as the Central Hockey League does a segment called "They Said It". Other coaches coming up include Rapid City Rush Head Coach Joe Ferras.

Here's the Records from the last 3 seasons dating back to the 2007-2008 season.

2007-2008 Season

Regular Season: 16-41-7 39 PTS, Last in Southeast DIV, Last in Southern Conference

Playoffs: Didn't make Playoffs

2008-2009 Season

Regular Season: 35-24-5 73 PTS, 3rd in Southeast DIV, 4th in Southern Conference

Playoffs: Conf. Play In Beat CRP 2-1, Conf. SFS Lost to TEX 4-0

2009-2010 Season

Regular Season: 27-27-10 64 PTS, 6th Place in Southern Conference

Playoffs: Out of Playoffs

Here's the Q&A

How has the offseason been so far for you?

The offseason has been good. It has been very busy recruiting wise and doing a lot of the little things that are required to prepare for the upcoming season. As a coach you spend a lot of time on the phone networking and talking to agents and trying to find players that are the right fit for your team. Recruiting is a time consuming part of the job, as you have to be available to prospective players and their agents 24 hours a day. At the same point, it is necessary to have balance in your life and try your best to make time to relieve yourself from your job a bit.

What changes do you feel are necessary for the Bees for this season?

Reflecting on last season, I don't feel we were that far off. We had a lot of untimely injuries that really impacted our team at various points. Was I satisfied finishing 27-27-10? Definitely not, but at the same point our team battled right down to the end of the season. It's important to continue to build our team around the locker room and in order to do that you need players with character and drive and you need players who aspire to play hockey at the highest level that you can possibly play at.

It is critical for us to be a team that other teams in the league hate to play, whether it is at home or on the road. Other teams need to know exactly what they are going to get when they play us every night. Other teams need know that we are going to compete and be tenacious from start to finish. In order to achieve that we have added size and grit to our blueline in signing Kyle Radke, Karl Medernach, Kirk Medernach, Matt Smyth and Rob Cowan.

As a Head Coach, what did you learn the most from your first year to second year in RGV?

I have learned so much about myself and a person and a coach through my time in Rio Grande Valley. My biggest strength as a coach is the ability to teach. In order for me to teach, I feel we need players that want to learn. We need players that put the team first and will do anything asked of them. If we can get a group like that we will have a team. If you have a team that works towards a common goal, you can have success. I want to surround myself with players that are not satisfied playing in the CHL. I have also learned that this is a business. You have to make decisions best for the team and the organization, and put personal feelings that you have for players aside. Sometimes that is difficult to do.

You have signed size and toughness, are you changing the focus and game plan for the team this season?

My focus and game plan for the team this upcoming season has not changed. I have just been fortunate that the players that I have pursued to come play in Rio Grande Valley have size and toughness. Now the goal is continue to build with some skilled players around what we have signed.

You obviously think highly of character players and those who play both ways (I.E. Mcclellan and Lee). What do those type of players mean for your hockey team?

Charcter is one of my key priorities that I look in for my players. The Players I bring here are a reflection of our owner, our front office and me. I have been fortunate over my two seasons in Rio Grande Valley to have a lot of great character players. Two of those players, Zac Mclellan and Aaron Lee characterize the type of players I want to coach. The approach every single day like is their last, they are coachable, hungry and unbelievable team guys that will do anything for the best of the team. They are great in the community and in the locker room and they make coaching rewarding and enjoyable.

The Bees and Bucks will meet a bunch of times during the regular season, how big is that rivalry and do you think of the recruiting, players that match up well against the Bucks?

Our rivalry with Laredo plays a key role in our success. Terry Ruskowski is one of the most successful coaches in minor pro hockey and you know his team will be ready to play every night. They are well coached and well prepared. In return that is why it is so important for us to be even better prepared. Terry is a coach that gets the most out of his players and heading into the season, we know that the 16 games we play against Laredo will be battles.

The fans support the Killer Bees is so steady, what has been the trick in keeping them on the edge of their seats?

Our fans are unbelievable. When I left Western Michigan in 2008, the org, the front office, and the fans are the big reason why I took this job. Our owner and front office staff do an unbelievable job entertaining and making the fans experience an enjoyable one. At the same time, the fans and our organization, making Rio Grande Valley a great place for our players to play. Our front office staff is very creative and the corporate and community support continues to grow.

What are your thoughts on the CHL's Playoff Format with 16 of 18 teams making the playoffs, would you be offended to be the 8th team in the Conference?

I knew this was going to be asked! I have been asked so many times since this decision was made. I think this is the cleanest way for the CHL to set up the playoffs. If we went to 12 of 16 teams making the post season, people would have criticized it. Setting up the playoffs is a no win situation. Some will like it some won't. I support the decision. Regardless of how many teams make the playoffs, my goal as a coach to approach the season game by game and our focus is to improve every single day in pursuit of a championship.

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