By Ben Leeson The Sudbury Star
Darryl Moxam was fully focused on preparing for his first season as head coach of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians when the Sudbury Wolves came calling.
Moxam, a former OHLer from Lively who played for the Wolves a decade ago, was announced as Rayside’s new bench boss just last month. But when Wolves assistant coach Bryan Verreault left the team due to work commitments, Moxam was offered a spot on the staff alongside head coach Dave Matsos and associate Drake Berehowsky.
Wolves general manager Barclay Branch confirmed Moxam’s hiring on Friday.
“I’m ecstatic about working with David and Drake and a young group of guys and being part of something special here in the next couple of years,” Moxam, 39, said. “I was looking forward to working with the guys in Rayside, but when an opportunity like this comes up, it was a no-brainer for me and for my family.”
Dave Clancy, originally named as Rayside’s associate coach and general manager, will serve as head coach, while retaining GM duties for the NOJHL club.
Moxam played for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, Oshawa Generals and the Wolves before moving behind the bench with the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats, a powerhouse in the NOJHL during the 1990s and early 2000s, as an assistant to current Wolves assistant GM Ken MacKenzie.
Moxam was head coach of the Sudbury Junior Wolves, then owned by Wolves owner Mark Burgess, and also coached the Nickel City Sons minor midgets before a three-year stint as Craig Duncanson’s assistant with the Laurentian University Voyageurs men’s hockey team.
“It’s the second time I have had a chance to work for Mr. Burgess and Blaine Smith and I’m familiar with their expectations,” Moxam said. “I’m excited to do it again and hopefully, I can add something here that they’re looking for.”
Branch was pleased to bring Moxam on board.
“Darryl has a great deal of experience, not just in coaching, but also playing,” Branch said. “He has that playing background, he has a real strong coaching background, he has had success everywhere he has coached, so all of those parts are really important to us, but Darryl also brings a great deal of enthusiasm which will be a real positive addition to our coaching staff.
“The first time I spoke to Darryl, you could tell right away there was an instant connection. He has a lot of the elements that we’re looking for and that jumped out at us right away.”
Matsos is eager to get started with Moxam and plans to meet with his new assistant several times before the Wolves take their summer break in July.
“I have heard he has a good mind for the game and he’s a hard worker from what I understand,” Matsos said. “It’s not an easy league to get into – in fact, this position wouldn’t have become available if Bryan hadn’t been transferred, and you’ve got a young coach in Mox here who is excited to take a shot on the bench in the OHL. These spots don’t come up very often and we’re glad he’s excited about it. Often, what you find happens is these young guys get in and they overwork themselves to try and impress the people they’re working around, and I think that’s only going to benefit our staff.”
Clancy, who has worked alongside Moxam for the better part of 10 years, was pleased to see his longtime collaborator get a chance at the OHL.
“We’re happy for Darryl,” Clancy said. “It’s like any player – we want to move anybody on to the next level if we can. Darryl has been wanting to do this for a while, so we’re happy for him.”
The Canadians haven’t slowed much in their preparation for 2016-17. They held a tryout camp earlier this month – with help from Moxam – and had signed 14 players, including five returnees, as of Friday.
“I don’t think this will affect us too much, though obviously, we would still love to have him,” Clancy said.
Vagelli Sakellaris and Barrie Moore are expected to remain as Clancy’s assistant coaches, while Sebastien Leroux and Ben St. Marseille, local products who recently played in the NOJHL, are to join the staff, as well.
“Barrie, being a firefighter, can’t make it on the road too often, so we’re looking for one of the young guys to be a steady guy with Vagelli and myself,” Clancy said. “The other one will do a lot of practice stuff, teaching the kids and working with them on a lot of specific drills, things like that.
“The game is evolving quite a bit and I’m sure everybody sees it. With the younger guys, they’re time-consuming and you have to pamper them a little more than you used to in the old days, so having the younger guys there to take the extra time, show them what we’re trying to get across and the reasons for it, that helps a lot.”