by John Austen
Kevin Figsby doesnt think hes changed much as a coach since
taking over the mens hockey program at Concordia three years ago.
He does feel, however, that he and his staff have had a major impact on
the program, both on and off the ice.
No, I havent changed, but the program surely has, he
told the Thursday Report. We have the alumni back on board in a
big way and were initiating a long-overdue wall of fame where the
hockey greats of Sir George, Loyola and Concordia will all be honoured.
Im a big believer in pride and tradition, he continued.
An example of that is in our dressing room. When a kid sits at his
stall, he sees the names of all the past players that occupied that spot
for the past 27 years.
Figsby also points to the fact that the team retired sweater No. 9 in
honour of Maurice Rocket Richard two years ago, and honoured the Montreal
Shamrocks hockey program by wearing patches on their jerseys last year.
I think people notice that were trying to do something positive
here at Concordia and were respected for it, he said. Thats
why the Montreal Canadiens sent some of their injured players to practice
with us last year. They knew it would be a positive and professional environment
Players such as Saku Koivu, Donald Audette, Jeff Hackett and Sheldon Souray
all took advantage of Concordias offer. Figsby also says hes
trying to get some visiting NHL clubs to practice at the Ed Meagher Arena
when theyre in town.
Figsby and his staff are currently prepping for two important league games
this weekend. The Stingers host the Ottawa Gee-Gees Friday (Ed Meagher
Arena, 7:30 p.m.) and travel to McGill on Sunday (McConnell Arena, 2 p.m.).
Last Friday, the Stingers opened their 2002-03 season with a 4-2 loss
in Trois Rivières.
Thats the team to beat, Figsby said. Theyve
been to the national championship four years in a row.
Figsby says his teams outlook is good this season despite an early
rash of injuries. The veteran-laden line-up is ticketed to challenge for
the top spot this year.
Concordia has strong goaltending with Philippe Ozga and Chris Wilcox,
as well as a solid group of forwards. Our defence is good, too,
but theyre young, he said. Were building for the
future at that position.
The coaching staff is also expecting big things from highly touted Jonathan
Gauthier, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in Quebec Major Junior
Hockey five years ago as a 16-year-old.
Figsbys coaching staff includes ex-NHLer Gord Donnelly, Tom Angelitti
and Peter Bender. Dr. Wayne Halliwell will also be on board to help with
the teams mental preparation.
The psychological aspect of the game is extremely important these
days, said Figsby. Last year when we had Wayne with us we
won eight of nine games. He was a big part of the teams success.