MIDLAND – Midland Flyers president Gerry Asselin thought he was clearing up a few simple details with head coach Dave Steele when the two exchanged words last week.
It turned out to be much more.
During the March 16 conversation, Steele told Asselin he would be leaving the team to join the coaching staff of the Stayner Siskins.
That touched off 72 hours of activity, leading to the Sunday naming of Keith Cyr as Midland’s head coach for the 2016-17 season. Cyr had served as the chief scout for the Flyers this past season.
“Dave informed us that he was going to go to Stayner and, in his words, he thought it was a better fit for him,” said Asselin. “Dave was a hardworking coach and very generous with his time, helping with different aspects of the team, so we wish him the best.”
Steele joined the Flyers two years ago. This past season, he guided the team to a third-place finish in the Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League standings, compiling a 19-16-5 record.
Midland was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in five games by a rejuvenated Penetang Kings squad.
Steele praised Asselin for the support he received in Midland.
“Gerry has been so fantastic and is so committed to the team,” he said. “There was no hard feelings…. (Stayner) was just a far better option for me.”
The dramatic improvement by the Flyers, who finished last the previous season, did not go unnoticed around the league.
“As soon as our season was over, I was approached by three teams that were interested in getting me involved in one capacity or another, be it general manager or head coach,” said Steele.
But even then, Steele said his intention was to stay in Midland.
“I had been in Midland and we had grown a far better club than what I had seen previously, but it was a ton of work,” said Steele.
The lack of a large volunteer base, plus limited funding, led to Steele doing far more than just coaching. Before long, he found he was adding scouting, mentoring, game-day operations and sponsorship.
“It became so much like work that it wasn’t worth the benefits of the fun part, that being coaching,” he said. “I’m a businessman and I run two companies, so my time is very valuable to me.”
Steele said previous dealings with Stayner general manager Richard Gauthier provided the comfort level he needed to accept the coaching position.
The Siskins, who compiled an 18-17-5 regular-season record this past season, were eliminated in six games in the opening round of the playoffs by the Caledon Golden Hawks.