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Jesse Messier hired as new head coach of the Fighting Walleye, says communication will be key | CBC News


The new coach of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s (SIJHL) Kam River Fighting Walleye says his experience both on and off the ice will help him better relate to his players.

The team announced Jesse Messier as its new head coach at a media event on Friday. Messier has played in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the St. Michael’s Majors and Sudbury Wolves, the Toledo Walleye and Allen Americans of the East Coast Hockey League, and York University.

Following his playing career, Messier, 35, held assistant coach positions with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, and York University.

“It’s extremely humbling,” Messier said of joining the Fighting Walleye. “I’m super excited to get going here.”

“It’s a top-notch notch organization,” he said. “They built this program in the right way.”

The Fighting Walleye are relatively new to the SIJHL, having joined the league for the 2020-21 season. However, last year, the team won the league championship and went on to compete in the Centennial Cup.

WATCH | Fighting Walleye prepare for last year’s Junior A championships: 

The Kam River Fighting Walleye hit the road today to take on Canada’s top Junior A teams

The Walleye earned a spot in this year’s national tournament by taking the Superior International Junior Hockey League championship last week. The Walleye play their first Centennial Cup game on Thursday facing the Battlefords North Stars. This year’s Centennial Cup is in Portage la Prarie, Manitoba.

While Messier said coming in to an organization following a championship win is a big challenge for a coach, he said he’s already been talking with the players; that communication will be key during the next SIJHL season, as well.

“I think communication is key from top to bottom,” he said. “I got that open door policy.”

“I never want guys to to feel like they don’t know where they stand,” Messier said. “Even when things aren’t going well for a guy, I’m gonna let him know that. But then we’re going to work our way through that to get them back to where they need to be.”

Messier, who’s from Keswick, Ontario, said he’ll be building a fast, aggressive team for the upcoming season.

Fighting Walleye general manager Kevin McCallum said hiring a new coach will help shake things up as the team comes off a championship season.

“Our players don’t remain comfortable by any means,” he said. “They panic right away. Our recruits panicked a little bit, but I assured them that we’d be bringing in a top quality guy, and I think we’ve hit one out of the park here by bringing Jesse in.

“He encompasses everything we want at the arena and away from the arena,” McCallum said. “We want a professional guy in the community.”


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