The Halifax Mooseheads are going with the status quo, with a couple of tweaks, after an early playoff exit.
The team announced yesterday that head coach Cam Russell had been signed to a two-year contract extension, while assistants Chris Donnelly and Jeff MacLeod and goalie coach Patrick Dallaire have been offered one-year extensions.
General manager Marcel Patenaude, meanwhile, signed a two-year contract extension in September that begins this fall.
“These guys are smart guys, good hockey guys, and they will continue to improve,” owner Bobby Smith said. “Cam is in Year 3 as a head coach next year. His commitment is to be the best head coach in the league, and I think he can be.
“Cam and Marcel are the type of people I want running our hockey team. I’m hopeful they’ll be doing it for a long time.”
Halifax was swept in four straight by the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL semifinals. Smith called a 6-1 loss in Game 3 “a disaster” and the “most disappointing game the Mooseheads have played” since he bought the team in 2003.
He said he is confident that whatever mistakes were made by this year’s staff wouldn’t be made again in the future.
Patenaude held a 90-minute press conference in his office to discuss the issues around this year’s team.
He said the powerhouse squad that started the season 20-4-0-4 was “never the same” from Nov. 25 on. He said “lack of confidence, a bit of selfishness from some players, some discipline, and all that mixed up” caused the second-half slide.
He said the players felt Gatineau “was a weaker team” and that they “packed it in” once down 2-0 in the series. He added that players were distracted during the seven-day break before the Gatineau series because “it was sunny outside.”
His message to fans was this: “We underestimated the urgency, for some of the players, of playing, executing. We’ve let some things go instead of reacting, and in the future, we have to be more careful with that, to know the players.”
As an example, Patenaude said the scratching of star forward Brad Marchand in Game 4 should have happened sooner.
Patenaude has recommended that the team hire a psychologist to help players deal with the pressures of junior hockey.
The team also announced that forward Daniel Smith, Bobby’s son, is leaving hockey to pursue a business degree in San Diego.
For more on Patenaude’s season post-mortem, visit Matthew Wuest’s blog.