There was a time earlier this spring when it looked like Jamie Brake would take the next logical step in his minor hockey coaching career.
Brake had just guided the Western Knights of the provincial minor midget hockey league to a first-place finish in the regular season and only an agonizing loss in overtime of the championship game kept the year from being a complete success.
Brake told The Western Star back in May that he was approached by the ownership group of the provincial major midget league’s Western Kings to step in as coach of that group, after it was revealed head coach Mark Robinson and assistant coach Andre Cornick would not be back.
Cornick was released via an email from Kings co-owner Craig Simms back in April, while it was also confirmed Robinson was no longer part of the staff, but no details were disclosed.
Since then, there has been little said about the squad, other than the existence of an anonymous letter sent to Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador regarding an alleged hazing incident on the Kings’ bus earlier in the season. The letter is believed to have been sent by one of the parents of a player on the team.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador president Jack Lee told The Western Star back in June his organization would never entertain a letter of complaint that wasn't signed by the person who is bringing the concern forward.
Brake said Thursday, due to the current issues within the Kings organization, he thought it was best to steer clear until those matters were straightened out. He said he officially dropped his name out of the running for head coach about three weeks ago.
It was then he decided to return to serve behind the Knights’ bench. He takes ample solace in the fact he and the team can now focus on the unfinished business of last season’s sour finish.
“We’re looking for a little retribution,” he said.
A championship title would certainly achieve that, but things will get a little tougher this season with the expected entry of a team from St. John’s. Last season it was just Western, Tri-Pen and Central in the mix.
“They’ll provide some good competition, for sure,” Brake said.
The unfortunate circumstance for the Knights is they can’t really “get out of the gate,” Brake said, until the Kings do, due to some eligible players looking to crack the major midget roster first.
He’s hoping they’ll be able to hold an identification camp and tryouts by mid-September, with the roster being finalized by the end of that month. He expects he’ll see “some” of the players from last year’s team back in the Knights jersey this season.
Until then, the life of a coach is never easy, and Brake has already begun piecing together practice plans and game plans for the upcoming season, as well as putting out feelers for some out-of-province tournament play.
As for the Kings, when contacted by The Western Star on Thursday night, co-owner Jason Oake said nothing was finalized on the coaching front for next season yet, and that it was premature to comment, but he did say he was hopeful everything would be in place by the middle of next week.
Fellow co-owner Simms was unavailable for comment.