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Friday, 31 August 2012 14:12

Heward excited about his future with the Broncos

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Jamie Heward, the Swift Current Broncos’ newly appointed assistant coach and director of player development, started his new position last week by attending the team’s training camp. Jamie Heward, the Swift Current Broncos’ newly appointed assistant coach and director of player development, started his new position last week by attending the team’s training camp. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

After his first week as the Swift Current Broncos new assistant coach and head of player development, former NHLer Jamie Heward is feeling good about his future.

 

His first few days in Swift Current involved a lot of interaction with the players that attended the club’s training camp, which started on Aug. 21 and concluded on Aug. 26 with the Black and White intra-squad team.

Heward was behind the Team Black bench for the final game, which saw the black jerseys blank their opponents 5-0.

“It was a good week,” he said. “I'm really happy that I took the position. The coaches and the management have been really good, and the scouts have been great.”

He was happy with the level of play during the camp, especially from the younger players.

“I've seen the Broncos play last year, so I knew who some of the older guys were but the young kids impressed me,” he said. “I think they've impressed everybody. At some camps you have kids that are maybe out of place, but this one wasn't the case.”

During his NHL career the 41-year-old Heward played 394 regular season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The former defenseman recorded 124 points from 38 goals and 86 assists and 221 penalty minutes. He also played three seasons in the Swiss-A League and one in the KHL.

According to Heward his experience will be useful to provide additional support and advice to the team.

“They've got a good coaching staff in place already,” he said. “Mark Lamb was a great player and he's done very well as a coach. We've got a good group of scouts, guys that are passionate about their game and all I'm going to do is give them an extra set of eyes.”

As a player he spent time with different teams, which he felt will be helpful in his interaction with the Broncos players.

“I've played for lots of different coaches,” he said. “I just think I can relate to the young guys and give them an opportunity to ask questions and have the answers for them. Even the 17, 18 and 19-year-old guys, though they seem older they're still young kids that need to be coached and need to be mentored.”

Heward’s appointment came after former assistant coach Andy Schneider joined the scouting staff of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The two of them played against each other during their WHL careers, when Heward was with the Regina Pats and Schneider with the Broncos.

“The rink has changed, but my memories haven't changed about this place,” Heward said. “We used to come in here and have some good battles with these guys.”

For the moment he will be based out of Regina because his job description must still be finalized.

“We're still trying to figure out where I'm going to be and what I'm going to do in any given month,” he said. “I'm going to try to be here as much as I can.”

He is really looking forward to his role in player development, which will see him spend a lot of time on the road to keep in touch with the club’s young prospects.

“Once you draft them you can't leave them alone,” he said. “You've got to be able to talk to them, to let them know that somebody is watching and somebody cares. If they're having a bad time they can phone at any time and it's more about talking even to the parents on a personal level to know how their son is doing.”

Heward has not given a career in coaching much thought yet. For now he wants to enjoy the opportunities of his position with the Broncos, which will allow him to carry out coaching duties when he is with the team and at other times track the development of young players.

“Maybe I won't want to coach, maybe I'll just want to be an assistant GM or GM or something along those lines,” he said. “But right now I still enjoy being on the ice and as long as I enjoy being on the ice I will continue to do it.”

 
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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer