Monday, September 23, 2013
Kris Mallette's Transformation:
Kris Mallette's Transformation
September 20, 2013
Volume 2, I ssue 4
Like many a hockey tough guy, Viper Associate Coach Kris Mallette has been a student of the game of hockey, essentially preparing for a time when he would no longer play professionally.
A hulking presence (6’4”, 230 lbs.) Mallette was an enforcer for four years with the WHL Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors. That role stuck with him in a pro career that took him to eight teams in four leagues. He accumulated over 2,000 penalty minutes in nine years in the International League, the East Coast League, the Central League, and the United League.
“Although I didn’t make millions, we had a comfortable living and I enjoyed the experience of seeing much of the United States,” he says, “but my wife Susie and I decided to move home to Kelowna when our first child was ready to start school.”
Back in Kelowna, Mallette got into coaching as he joined Brent Gilchrist in leading a Kelowna Tier 1 midget team to a provincial title. “I was hooked right away,” he says.
Offers started to come in from BCHL teams, but Mallette wanted to stay in the Okanagan so he accepted an assistant coach offer from the Jr. B North Okanagan Knights. When Sylvain Leone departed in 2011, Mallette took over the head coach role for two years before joining the Vipers this summer.
He and assistant Shawn Webb directed the Knights to the KIJHL final this spring. He was duly awarded the KIJHL coach of the year, after guiding his young team to a 69-30-2-3 record over two years.
With the Vipers, he’s responsible mainly for the Vipers’ defencemen and defensive zone play, as part of the defined roles that Jason Williamson has worked out with Mallette and Dave Robinson. He "loves the details of the defensive zone." He says that he also believes "in giving guys freedom to make plays in the offensive zone as long as they're responsible defensively. If you're really tight in your end, good things will happen and you can go have fun."
Mallette is bullish about the Viper defence corps – "each one brings something valuable to the table and they can all hit, which I love. We're close to becoming a really good group, but some habits have to change. I'm not expecting miracles in the early part of the season, but we do have a strong base and we will get tighter." The stats from the first five games support his cautious optimism. The team has surrendered 21 goals in that opening stretch, but at times the defence has been really tight.
One thing that he will really stress is communication. "Defensive zone draws and general defence is all about responsibility, head on a swivel, picking up your man, and
communicating. Young players have to learn to talk to one another. In an NHL game,
you can hear them yelling constantly. They know exactly what's going on out there."