Nathan Oystrick was named the new head coach and general manager of the Humboldt Broncos Tuesday.
The announcement comes nearly three months after the team’s bus was struck travelling to a playoff game in Nipawin, killing 16 people including head coach Darcy Haugan.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to be the Humboldt Broncos head coach, and look forward to joining this tremendous community and leading this historic organization, all the while never forgetting the circumstances which have brought me here,” Oystrick said in a news release.
“I’m honoured and excited to help lead the Humboldt Broncos toward success in 2018-19.”
Oystrick, from Regina, most recently led the Colorado Academy high school to it’s first season on the ice in over a decade.
Prior to that, Oystrick played 10 seasons of professional hockey, including 65 NHL games for the Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.
His first coaching assignment was with the Atlanta Gladiators and Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, affiliates of NHL’s Boston Bruins ad Buffalo Sabres respectively.
“Nathan is an outstanding coach who brings in a combination of exceptional playing experience, solid leadership skills and a winning attitude,” Humboldt Broncos president Kevin Garinger said in a news release. “His strong work ethic and his ability to build relationships will be fundamental to the success of rebuilding our program.”
On May 11, the team issued a statement saying they will ice a team for the 2018-19 season, unofficially beginning the search for a head coach.
A little over a month later, Garinger said the team was overwhelmed by the amount of applications they received. On Tuesday, Garinger said more than 50 people applied for the job.
Oystrick rose through the hockey ranks first playing with the South Surrey Eagles in the BCHL for two seasons, leading him to a collegiate career for Northern Michigan University, where he played for four seasons.
Prior to his first season in Michigan, Oystrick was selected in the seventh round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers.
Before taking questions about his past and style he hopes to bring to the team, Oystrick offered some words on Haugan.
“I did not know Darcy Haugan, but like so many people in this world today, I wish I had,” Oystrick said moments after he was introduced at a news conference. “His core covenant will remain where he placed it on the wall outside the Broncos dressing room.”
“I believe in his commitment to not just developing skilled hockey players, but developing great human beings.”
More than continuing on ice success, Oystrick looked back on the memorable coaches who propelled his career and hopes he can have the same effect on his players.
“I feel I wouldn’t be here without them,” he said. “I’m hoping to give back the same way.”
“I hope that in 15 or 20 years, I’m at a press conference and one of my players is doing the exact same thing and possibly saying ‘It was because of coach Oystrick.'”
Oystrick, along with his wife Jenna and dog Wiley, are expected to make the move from Colorado to Humboldt at the end of July.