By Dave Leaderhouse
Photo courtesy grasslandnews.ca
Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of features on the 12 head coaches in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League that will run every Friday throughout the summer. The intent is to familiarize the fans with those who are in charge of the various clubs as there has been a significant turnover in the last couple of seasons. Often ready to take a backseat to the players, as those are the ones who deserve to be in the spotlight, the coaches and general managers shoulder the responsibility for putting the product on the ice and rightfully deserve credit for making the SJHL one of the premiere Junior “A” leagues in the country.
For the first six years of his junior coaching career Kyle Adams experienced plenty of success in a partnership with Jason Tatarnic. Since branching out on his own two years ago, however, that road has taken some wild turns and now that he has a new two-year contract with the Melville Millionaires he is looking to get back to the level he was accustomed to earlier in the decade.
“I am honoured to be part of a hockey organization that has the history that the Melville Millionaires does and am looking forward to being part of such an historical franchise,” said Adams in a press release at the time of his signing this spring.
The 40-year-old Adams grew up in Scarborough, Ont., and played his minor hockey there. After five years of junior hockey in the Oshawa area he played one season in the United Hockey League with the BC Icemen based out of Binghamton, NY, before finishing his playing days at Wilfred Laurier University.
Adams then got into coaching at the Midget AAA level before making his first swing across the country with a quick stop in Drayton Valley of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. A couple of years later he hooked up with Tatarnic, first in Woodstock of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, and then back across the country again in Chilliwack of the British Columbia Hockey League.
During his time with Tatarnic the pair won several league titles and were silver medalists at the 2012 Royal Bank Cup championship. A chance to run a team on his own presented itself in 2017 and Adams returned to Drayton Valley to take over a club that had struggled mightily the year before.
That venture didn’t last long, however, as Adams was let go by the Thunder just over two months into the season and he didn’t get behind the bench again until early in the schedule last year with Melville.
Hired as an assistant coach to Devin Windle 14 games into the campaign, Adams became the interim head coach and general manager six weeks later after the Millionaires had posted just eight wins in the first half of the season.
Melville responded immediately to the change in direction going 5-5 in the first 10 games under Adams’s watch, but a tough finish where they went 1-6-2-1 in their last 10 games left them out of the post-season for the third time in the last four years. The Millionaires were actually tied with the Weyburn Red Wings in points, but the first tie-breaker of victories (18 to 16) put them on the sidelines.
Now that the interim tag has been removed, Adams is ready and excited for the challenge of getting Melville back into the post-season.
“We could bring back as many as 15 players from last year, but we won’t be bringing all of them back,” says Adams. “We will be going a bit younger.”
“We’ve done a great job of recruiting so far and have eight players committed for the coming season,” added Adams.
From having been involved in the game from coast to coast Adams says he has seen many different styles and his plan is to develop the one that works best for Melville to be competitive in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
With the elimination of the Wild Card round this year the Millionaires have a lot of ground to make up to get a coveted playoff spot, but Adams is ready and looking forward to adding some more history to a franchise that has yet to win a league championship.