Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
Lloydminster Bobcats newly-appointed interim head coach Kyle Tapp is anticipating several changes from his role as an assistant coach.
As the head coach, Tapp can implement his own systems and manage a game with more authority than he did as an assistant, but another thing he expects to change is his relationships with the players.
“As an assistant you’re kind of there to manage emotions and how particular guys are feeling at a particular day depending on what’s happened. Where as a head coach you’ve kind of got to look at the whole picture, the whole team itself, so I’ve let the guys know that our relationship will change slightly,” said Tapp on Friday prior to picking up his first two wins as a head coach in the AJHL this past weekend.
That isn’t to say that Tapp plans on changing up his whole persona, but he recognizes what is expected of him as a head coach.
“A good assistant coach is a good chameleon in that he needs to be whatever the team needs him to be at that given moment in time whereas a head coach needs to have a solid identity, image, persona, whatever that may be and carry from there.”
Of course, that isn’t surprising either as Tapp does have experience as a head coach, just not at the Junior A level; he did coach the midget AAA Bobcats to two of their most successful seasons prior to joining the AJHL ‘Cats, where he learned that good habits are the key.
“It’s all about habits, what you do in the dark shows up in the light. You can’t just say ‘I’m going to be good today,’ you have to do that every day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed,” Tapp explained.
And that experience coaching the AAA ‘Cats has carried over into this season in another way: During those two seasons he coached current Bobcats Linden Springer, Braden Crone, Kolten Anderson, and Jordyn Wozniak.
“He’s a great inspiration,” said Crone of Tapp. “He’s helped me out so much in my hockey career, he got me ready for junior a year early, I owe everything to him.”
Tapp was named the team’s head coach on an interim basis just last week after it was announced that Ryan Parent was relieved of his duties following an up-and-down (but mostly down) first three months.
“First thing I felt bad for him,” said Tapp of Parent. “I think as a coaching fraternity we never like to see any of our brothers get fired, because it happens to a lot of us, it’s happened to me before so I know what it feels like.”
With the Bobcats 10 points out of a playoff spot and just 18 games to go, Tapp takes over with the luxury of having few expectations. If they finish last in the North, it’s to be expected, but if they somehow pull off a playoff berth, he’ll be hailed for turning the team around and will have likely cemented his position for next season.
And he knows it will be an uphill climb, but he, like the rest of the team, continues to eye the playoffs.
“We’re obviously going to need some luck from the hockey gods and we’re going to have to come together quickly, but I don’t think many teams have the depth we have (or) the goaltending we have,” said Tapp, adding that they’ll likely need to win 15 or 16 of their final 20 games – they won the first two of those this past weekend.
But whatever happens, Tapp is expecting an inspired effort night in and night out.
“We have to go out there and lay it all out on the line every minute and kind of show this community what it has supported and what it has gone out on a limb to back up and financially support.”