A former Surrey Eagles defenceman has been tabbed as the new coach and general manger of the Humboldt Broncos.
Nathan Oystrick, who played for the BC Hockey League team from 2000-2002, was announced July 3 as the new bench boss of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League club, which tragically lost former head coach/GM Darcy Haugan, along with 15 others, in an April 6 bus crash.
Among those who died was another former Eagle, Jaxon Joseph.
Oystrick, 35, is a Saskatchewan native who, prior to his appointment with the Broncos, had been the head coach of Colorado Academy high school.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to be the Humboldt Broncos head coach, and look forward to joining this tremendous community and leading this historic organization, all the while never forgetting the circumstances which have brought me here,” said Oystrick in a news release.
“I’m honoured and excited to help lead the Humboldt Broncos toward success in 2018-19.”
After spending two years with the Eagles – during which he racked up 101 points in 110 games, along with more than 360 penalty minutes – Oystrick moved to the NCAA, where he spent four years at Northern Michigan University. In 2002, he was a seventh-round draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers.
From 2005 until his retirement in 2016, he played in the American Hockey League, ECHL, the Russian-based KHL, as well as the National Hockey League. He played 65 NHL games with the Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.
His extensive playing career, as well as his work with youth hockey in Colorado, is what endeared him to the Broncos’ organization, team president Kevin Garinger said.
“Nathan is an outstanding coach who brings in a combination of exceptional playing experience, solid leadership skills and a winning attitude,” Garinger said.
“His strong work ethic and his ability to build relationships will be fundamental to the success of rebuilding our program.”
Oystrick, along with his wife, Lindsay, is scheduled to move from Colorado to Saskatchewan later this month, the release notes.
At his introductory press conference last week, the new coach reiterated that he knows how much the Broncos mean to local residents, and now Canadians far and wide, in light of the tragedy last spring.
“I understand how much the Broncos have always meant to the community of Humboldt, but I also understand what the team has come to mean to so many people across North America and beyond,” he said.
Prior to Oystrick’s hiring, the Broncos had started the process of rebuilding their roster, with high-profile coaches and other hockey executives stepping in to help out. In late May, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock – a Saskatchewan native – volunteered to help run a free-agent camp for the Broncos, as did Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar.
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