Blades Hire Bill Cumming As New Head Coach

Blenheim Blades general manager Lonnie Hamilton announced today that he has hired former assistant coach Bill Cumming to take over the top spot behind the Blades bench for the upcoming 2017-18 Provincial Junior Hockey League Stobbs Division season.

Cumming, who last season joined then head coach Ken Shine’s staff as an assistant coach, is taking over for Shine who was released as the team’s head coach a week ago.

“He (Cumming) is a great hockey guy that will represent the team and the community with class,” said Hamilton.

“Bill understands the game and has excellent relationships with the players. He demands respect and yet still has the ability to communicate in a positive manner.

“Bill is extremely passionate and committed. He is a true representative of the Blenheim Blades.”

The Chatham resident has loads of Junior hockey experience over-and-above his Junior ‘B’ playing days with the Belle River Bulldogs and the Chatham Maroons.

He was also the head coach of the Maroons at one point and in 2007 until last year was the Maroons assistant general manager.

Cumming’s son Kier, a second-year Blade, led the team in scoring this past season and was named the most valuable player.

Cumming will be assisted in his coaching duties by Ken Gagner of Chatham, a former OHL player with the Brantford Alexanders and Hamilton Steelhawks from 1983 to 1985.

For many seasons Gagner, whose Blades title will be associate coach, has been successfully coaching ‘AAA’ teams in Chatham and this year will continue to coach the Chatham ‘AAA’ Alliance Major Bantams Cyclones along with his duties with the Blades.

He was also named the Alliance’s coach of the year a couple of seasons back.

This is not the first time a Blades coach has had double coaching duties as former head coach Bob McNear also coached minor hockey while behind the Blades bench.

“Ken is a very knowledgeable and passionate hockey guy as well,” said Hamilton.

“He has played at the Major Junior ‘A’ level. He has coached ‘AAA’ hockey for many years. He is a very well known guy in the hockey world.

“Ken has coached over 20 kids in the local Chatham Kent area that have went on to play at the Major Junior ‘A’ level, and is a certified High Performance coach with Hockey Canada.”

The new GM has also hired a very familiar name to coach the defence in the person of two-time Blades head coach, ex-GM and Blades Hall of Fame member Shawn Tiffin of Chatham.

This past season Tiffin was on the staff of the Junior ‘B’ Sarnia Legionnaires. He has also coached Junior ‘B’ in Chatham with the Maroons, in LaSalle with the Vipers and in Petrolia with the now defunct Jets, as well as holding the head coaching job in Wallaceburg with the Junior ‘C’ Lakers.

Hamilton also announced that assistant coach and head trainer Evan Merritt will be returning in the same capacities for 2017-18, along with goalie coach Bino Pereira.

Hamilton also said that former Blade, Maroon and professional player Nick Warriner is willing to come and help with some practices when he is available. Warriner, Blenheim native, was an assistant coach with the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds when Blenheim’s Dave Torrie was the team’s GM.

Stu Fletcher will be back as equipment manager and Mike Barton will continue to look after the Blades skates.

Current and prospective Blades will hit the Blenheim arena ice Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the first of two by invitation only spring skates, with the second being Thursday, April 27 again at 7:30.

Article submitted by the Blenheim Blades.

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