Coaching veteran now in charge of Xtreme
Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 06:00 am
There will be a new face behind the bench for the Airdrie Xtreme when the 2014/15 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) season gets underway in September.
However, the new head coach for the AMBHL team is not a stranger to the world of hockey.
Calgary’s Dan Olsen has been involved in the sport for 40 years, and has spent the last 25 years as a coach in various leagues, including a stint in Germany in the late 1990s and three years in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) with the now defunct Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves.
“I’ve been involved with the Calgary Buffalos midget program for the last three years, but I was really interested in getting back to a head coaching role in this league for the last couple of years,” Olsen said. “I actually didn’t know that this job in Airdrie was available, as I was looking at being a coach with the Rocky View Raiders program.”
“I found out that this position was open in Airdrie, and I expressed my interest in it,” he added. “I did the interview and found out that I had the job in the middle of May, and I was pretty excited when I got that offer to be the head coach.”
Olsen, who will be taking over from the departing Josh Zimmer, has had a couple of meetings with the Xtreme staff already, ahead of the new season, but his first look at any prospective players won’t be until the team’s training camp from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.
“I’m starting work on my plans for how I will be having our practices and things like that, but I haven’t really done anything when it comes to the players that will be on the team,” Olsen said. “The league doesn’t like teams making their decisions until the training camp happens, and I think that’s fair, because you want to give everyone a fair shot.”
In addition to his strong coaching resume, Olsen, who played with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers from 1978 to 1981, also comes from a hockey family.
His younger brother Darryl played four seasons of college hockey south of the border for the Northern Michigan Wildcats in the late 1980s, while his nephew Dylan is currently a member of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Florida Panthers.
“We’ve all gone our different paths in the world of hockey, and I’ve coached players who have gone on to the Western Hockey League (WHL) or the college ranks, so it’s been interesting to watch those guys all develop,” Olsen said.
“For me, that’s why I keep doing this after all of these years,” he added.
“To see these players develop and to help them with that is something that I really enjoy, especially with the kids who play on teams like the Xtreme, as it’s a big year for them with the WHL Draft.”
When Olsen was asked what style of hockey fans could expect to see at the Ron Ebbesen Arena this winter, he says those in attendance can expect to see some fast-moving action.
“For the kids that are playing at this age, it’s important for their development that they aren’t standing around at all times,” Olsen added. “I like to have teams that play at a high tempo that pressures the opponent and passes the puck quickly, so I think you can expect that with the Xtreme once we get the final roster set.”