Brent Tomlinson has made the difficult decision to step back from his position as Junior C Otters co-coach and general manager.
Tomlinson has been the co-coach of the Junior C Otters with Marc Gagnon since May 2017 and has juggled a full schedule that also included scouting for the OHL Niagara Ice Dogs along with his primary roles as a husband and father. “I decided that after spending the last year juggling the requirements… it was time to reprioritize the list and lighten the workload. As such, I made a difficult decision to take a step back from the Otters,” he said.
Tomlinson said he is extremely grateful to have had the privilege to be part of the Junior C Otters for both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. His final note to the team read:
“Fellows, I wanted to say thanks to you all! You may very well be the last Junior team I coach, and if that holds true, I am proud to have finished it off with this group. I made the decision to step away from the Otters for next season. The balancing act of Coach/GM/Scout/Husband/Dad proved to be very difficult this year, so I needed to lighten the load a little.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure and I look forward to watching you grow as players, but more so as young men. I look forward to one day passing you in the grocery store with a couple of your own little hockey players training alongside you. It’s the reason to coach, it’s more than the W, it’s about making the man. I hope that I have played a small role in that for each and everyone one of you.”
One of his players from both years, Connor Small, describes Tomlinson as a knowledgeable, patient and passionate coach. “His commitment to winning and the team was like none other.”
Tyler Gervais-Rolfe, who is hanging up his jersey this year as his time has ended with the Otters, said Tomlinson has been not only a coach but a role model and a mentor to him. “I’ve had the privilege to have him in my Junior career for five years now. As a coach, he dedicated his time to the team and not only does he strive to make each player a better hockey player, he tries to help each individual grow into a better man…I can’t thank him enough and we all wish him the best of luck in his future.”
Tomlinson is not certain how long of a break he’ll take from Junior hockey operations.
“I’m sure I’ll resurface somewhere at some point as it’s been a big part of mine and my family’s life for the past five years,” he said. “My boys have literally grown up in the dressing room with some of these players. Every time we go the rink, my boys needed to bring something, be it a new toy or hockey card to show ‘their friends’, so I’m going to miss those relationships and I’m sure they will too.”
Coach Tomlinson will be missed by both the players and the Otters staff.
Co-coach Marc Gagnon refers to Tomlinson as his hockey wife. They both started their careers in Powassan as scouts for the Voodoos and both became assistant coaches with the Voodoos, sharing a lot of time together on the road and ice together. “My time with him didn’t matter where or what team we were on, our relationship was and is way more than hockey. We both love the game and had very similar philosophies,” said Gagnon. “Brent is dedicated, a great sounding board, and a pleasure to work with. He is also a great father and family man, so I do understand why he will love enjoying more time with his family. I wish him all the best and will always be there for him like he is for me.”
The president of the Otters, Monty Clouthier, thanks Brent for his time with the Junior C team, and for helping to open new avenues for recruiting and for keeping the foundation of the club moving forward. “We are now in the mode of replacing Brent but we are very pleased to announce that Marc Gagnon will be our head coach going forward and the Otter organization and our fans can’t wait till next season which has already started,” he said.
Gagnon said he’ll make an announcement once an assistant coach or maybe two are in place. “Going to put a lot of time this off-season into recruiting, especially locally, and will work with the HMHA [Huntsville Minor Hockey Association],” he said.
Tomlinson said he is confident that with Gagnon staying on board and with the success of the Major Midget program and their developing players, the future will be bright for the Junior C Otters organization. “I look forward to being a part of the Otters achieving their playoff goals,” he said. “It will just be as a hockey fan now, instead of part of the hockey ops team.”
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