Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Klippers’ Coach Jardine brings wholistic approach to job

Photo credit to Kindersley Klippers

Clayton Jardine is uniquely equipped to bring a strong balance of analytics and humanity to his job.

The Kindersley Klippers head coach and general manager has a degree in Criminology (from Merrimack College, where he also played Division I hockey), and a master’s degree in business administration. Still, before being a bench boss, and a student of high-performance human functionality, his jobs of ‘husband’ and ‘father’ are the most important ones to him.

A native of Lacombe, AB, Clayton and his wife have two daughters under the age of three and says that “my summer will be filled making memories with my 2 daughters and my lovely wife in Western Canada.”

That all said, there is plenty of space in his heart to win for the Kindersley community – one for which he is unabashed in his love and gratitude.

“I enjoy the tight-knit, passionate community (here),” he says.

“There are a lot of supportive community members that love to be involved in all community events. The community of Kindersley cares about one another and is very engaged in the improvement of the town…and it has everything that a family needs within the town limits.”

In the area of giving back to West Central Sask, he has already put his proverbial ‘money where his mouth is’:

This is his third stint with the club, and in all three seasons, they have made the post-season. His first as an assistant in 2015-16 to head coach Geoff Grimwood, then after time in the NCAA with New England College, he grabbed the head job of the Klippers in ’18-’19, guiding them to a No. 4 seed, and the second-best defensive record in the league behind Doug Johnson’s Nipawin Hawks.

Next, four seasons at Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he had so much success as a player – in two of those he was an assistant coach on Team Canada West’s entry at the World Junior A Challenge – followed by a return to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League last year.

“I have experience in many leagues and was fortunate enough to scout all of the junior leagues in North America,” he says, “(and I found that) the SJHL and the Kindersley Klippers is a great spot to develop and move onto the NCAA or Usports.”

Like the best coaches, Jardine and his staff try to take a holistic approach in picking what players can play for him.

“I look for players that love the day-to-day process of learning and getting better on and off of the ice,” he adds.

“Players that can skate, manage the puck, live consistently, work hard, and think the game at a high level will have success (with me).”

Coming off the Klippers’ first playoff appearance last season since Jardine left in 2019, the club will look to reload on the fly with the departures of the likes of hometown heroes up front in Logan Linklater and Tylin Hilbig, and big-minute defencemen Simon Diaz and Nathan DeGraves. But led by talented centreman Brock Evans, the local Perlinger twins up front, the likes of dynamic offensive defenceman Austin Osiowy on the back end, and a solid-looking recruiting class, Jardine feels very confident heading into Year 2 of his latest stop in Kindersley.

“We are excited about the players that we have added and the players we have signed from U18,” he says.

“They are going to make it very hard on our returning group and challenge them for playing time. We are going to be young and have some players earn NCAA D1 scholarships.”

At only 33, with nine years of quality coaching already under his belt, Jardine surely is one of the very best of many terrific young, hard-working coaches in the game for the right reasons in our league.

“I am in coaching to develop athletes and help them move onto the next level,” he says.

“My best days are when players learn something new, get better on and off of the ice, and move onto the next level.”