Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds will finally make their long awaited returns to the National Hockey League.
This time, however, both former players will be behind the bench as assistants with the Ottawa Senators.
"I'm really excited about it, obviously," said the 52-year-old Cameron. "Any chance you get to go to the NHL, it's so hard to get there and so few jobs, you can't help but be excited. Now it's just a matter of going up there and getting under the direction of [head coach Paul MacLean] and helping that organization win some hockey games."
Cameron and Reeds – who coached against each other in the hotly contested OHL final this year – will join the newly appointed MacLean. Cameron is familiar with his new head coach since his UPEI Panthers played against MacLean and the Dalhousie Tigers in university hockey during the late 1970s. And with both men hailing from the Maritimes, Cameron said they would meet at various hockey and charity events.
"It's usually the same guys so you get to know them and bump into them, so I got to know Paul a bit that way," Cameron said. "I'm looking forward to working with him."
Reeds, 51, served as MacLean's assistant in the now-defunct International Hockey League for three seasons (1993-96) with the Peoria Rivermen.
"Mark has contributed a lot to this organization over the last four seasons," said Owen Sound Attack GM Dale DeGray. "Anytime a coach of Mark's caliber moves on, it creates a hole. We cannot thank him enough for his hard work, dedication and the positive attitude he has instilled throughout our whole organization."
Reeds had coached the Attack since 2007 and was named the OHL's coach of the year this season after leading Owen Sound to their first league title. The Attack defeated the Majors in the OHL Final which was eventually decided by overtime in Game 7. Cameron, the Majors' coach, said the two teams would occasionally cross paths on road trips, staying at the same hotel.
"I'd sit down and have conversations with Mark and we'd pick one another's brain," Cameron said.
"I have a lot of respect for Mark Reeds. He and I have talked over the years as coaches trying to figure things out at the OHL level."
The defeat in the OHL final was one of three heartbreaking losses for Cameron this year. In January as head coach of Canada's world junior team he lost in the final to Russia after surrendering a three goal lead in the third period. His Majors also fell short at the Memorial Cup in May, when they were defeated by the QMJHL champion Saint John Sea Dogs in the final.
He said he has no regrets and that the Majors will always hold a very special place in his heart.
"I've invested a lot in this team. I'm not going to just going to shut the door and leave here," Cameron said. "You don't coach a team without having an emotional attachment to it."
Cameron has been the head coach and GM of the Majors on two occasions since the 2000-01 season. His eight-year run with the team was broken up in 2004-05 when he left the junior team to become the head coach of the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators, Ottawa's affiliate. His tenure there lasted three seasons and the team only made the playoffs once. Still, he believes that experience helped prepare him for coaching pros at the next level.
"You learn that the players have the same concerns – what is our role on the team? – obviously it's a different age group and a different mentality in terms of maturity, so you handle them in a different way," Cameron said. "But you get to know the players and it's important that they know that you are interested in them, other than just from a hockey point of view."
The native of Kinkora, P.E.I., returned to the Majors after three AHL seasons – at the request of team owner Eugene Melnyk, who also owns the Senators – where he spent the last four seasons.
During their last contract negotiations with the Majors, Cameron signed a two-year deal, while associate coach and assistant GM James Boyd was given a three-year deal. It is expect that Boyd, who has worked for the Majors since 2004, will take over as the Majors new head coach. The 35-year-old was also head coach of the Belleville Bulls before joining the Majors. The move isn't official, but Cameron believes Boyd taking over would be a "no-brainer."
The Attack have put out a call to prospective coaches, but have already announced that assistant coach Terry Virtue would be first in line to interview for the vacant position.