HOLTY’S BLOG: “Houle as in Cool”

In true @PrezRiles fashion, he announced to the media today that the “Condors have hired J.F. Houle. Pronounced Houle as in cool.” (Full video here) That’s the easiest way to remember who the team selected from dozens of qualified candidates to be the sixth head coach in team history.

Last week, I gave you a “typical profile” (copied below) of what a Condors head coach looks like and traits he might have. How did I do?

Age at hire:
 36.6 years old [youngest – MacDonald (32) / oldest – Mann (43)]
Nationality:  Canadian (all five coaches have been Canadian. Three from Ontario)
Height: 6’1” [tallest – O’Dette (6’5”) / shortest – Mann (5’10”)]
Playing career: three of the five played in the AHL
Coaching career: three of the five had previous professional head coaching experience

How does JF shape up to my profiling?
Age: 39 (not the oldest, not the youngest)
Nationality: Canadian – nailed it and eastern Canadian too continuing that trend. (bonus point for Holty)
Height: Troy was the shortest and we made history, so I’m fine with him being under 6’
Playing career: AHL / ECHL
Coaching career: no professional coaching experience, but a wealth of major junior/college

I’m giving myself a .500 record on the profile. Don’t agree with my rulings? Tough, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want…

Kidding aside, I’m on board with this hire and I think JF will be a tremendous asset not only for the team, but in the community. When I spoke to him briefly this morning he talked at length about his excitement level about the position, about how much his family (wife and two children) is looking forward to moving to Bakersfield, and how many great things he also already heard and knows about Condorstown.

I got the impression that this was a guy who not only understood the hockey side of things, but valued the importance of the organization and community as a whole. Friends of the blog @Nailers_PxP and @Alex_Reed_PxP both separately reached out to me to say how much they enjoyed working with JF in Lewiston and how great he and the family were to the community.

On the ice, his teams are noted for their compete level and he described himself to me as demanding the team work hard, play fast, and with a high level of character.  He wasn’t selected by Hockey Canada as the U-17 National coach for nothing. That’s a HUGE deal. (as I mentioned in an email to the staff today)

He understands the “new” style of player and how to communicate effectively and get the most out of them. Another note he mentioned was his enjoyment in teaching the game which is invaluable at this level. Certainly, winning is important, but developing as he said “men on and off the ice,” is just as vital.

There will be time to dissect systems and styles at a later point. For now, it’s just about recognizing that the Condors are in good hands. Make no mistake about it, this was an attractive position, due in large part to the Edmonton Oilers ownership and support. It is not often you see a Major Junior head coach leave for the ECHL, which says all you need to know about the current state of Condorstown.

Bienvenue à Bakersfield!

Until next time Condorstown … Time to go bone up on my French.

Ryan Holt a.k.a. Holty is the voice of the Condors, entering his fourth season with the team. He’s going to Goo Goo Dolls tonight and thinks Iris is the best song they ever made. Tweet him @BroadcastHolt or shoot him an email.