The Wildcats’ Director of Hockey Operations Danny Flynn named his replacement as head coach of the Moncton Wildcats Friday, as he officially takes his step back to oversee the team from a distance.
The team announced that Darren Rumble, former NHL defenceman and head coach of the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL, will be the team’s newest head coach.
Rumble, 44, spent the last two seasons as an assistant to Steve Konowalchuk with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. He was the head coach of the Admirals for a season and a half, with an unimpressive record of 50-61-11 before being let go midway during the 2009-10 season.
Rumble has seen the QMJHL from behind the bench, having spent a season as an assistant coach with the now-defunct Lewiston MAINEiacs before joining the T-Birds.
As a player, Rumble was the equivalent to a four A player; he played 16 seasons in professional hockey and played 193 games in the NHL, but had four seasons in the AHL where he collected more than 50 points, including an Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s best defenceman in 1996-97 with the Philadelphia Phantoms. He won the Stanley Cup as a black ace with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
Flynn was eschewed upstairs after being stripped of the head coach tag from his dual role in late March. Flynn guided the team to the 2010 President’s Cup championship, but lost in the first round in the past three seasons, including last season where they were expected to be a cup contender. Rumble will fill Flynn’s old shoes as head coach, while Flynn retains the title of Director of Hockey Operations.
Rumble takes over a team that is losing a lot of depth and talent from last season. Gone are forwards Dmitrij Jaskin, Phil Danault, Yannick Veilleux, Ross Johnston and Alex and Allain Saulnier, as well as defencemen Jonathan Racine, Jonathan Narbonne and James Melindy.
Impact players returning to the team are forwards Christophe Lalonde, Conor Garland and Ivan Barbashev, defenceman Danick Emond and goaltender Alex Dubeau. Barbashev's linemate at the under-18s, Vladimir Tkachev, was picked in the CHL import draft.
Rumble said he plans to use his whole roster to win games, and call on his experience to help the Wildcats grow.
“I firmly believe in player development and using everyone on the roster,” he said. “To win a championship, you need four lines, six defencemen and two goalies that you can trust [to] put out on the ice.
“I’ve played for and worked with a lot of great coaches in the past that have helped shape the coach I am today.”
He added that leaving the T-Birds was a difficult decision.
“This was not an easy decision as the T-Birds are on the upswing and there are going to be some exciting times ahead for the team," said Rumble. "Professionally though, this was an opportunity to be a head coach [that] I couldn't pass up.”