Ex-NHLers Carney, Morris add knowledge to Bobcats’ staff
A long and successful professional career as a hockey player doesn’t always translate into coaching success, but possessing passion for the game and for developing young players is a key element, and the Arizona Bobcats are fortunate to have landed a pair of assistant coaches who check all the boxes.
Keith Carney and Derek Morris, both defensemen who played 17 years in the NHL, including stops with the Coyotes, are serving as assistants with the Bobcats this season – lending their experience and their love of hockey to the program’s overarching goal of developing great hockey players and young men.
“We’re always striving to be better as a program, and we wanted them to be involved in whatever capacity worked for them,” Bobcats director of hockey Ron Filion said. “They came to me and said they want to participate. What better way to teach our kids than to have two former NHL defensemen working with them?”
Morris, who has two teenage sons that play for the Bobcats, coached three seasons with CAHA at the Bantam and Midget AA levels, and joined the Bobcats before the 2017-18 season. He’ll work as an assistant coach with the 18U squad under Brent Gough and will help out wherever else he is asked.
Despite his achievements at the highest level of the sport, his aim is to not have the spotlight on him or do anything to overshadow the head coach.
“I was always taught when I was growing up that the head coach is in charge, whether you like it or not,” Morris said. “The coaches they have with the Bobcats are teaching the game the way it’s supposed to be taught. I’ll never overstep a head coach, and know that I’m just there to help out mostly with the defense. Ron has done an excellent job of putting qualified coaches in place with the right teams to help these kids continually develop.”
Carney is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Bobcats. He currently has a son on the 16U team and another who has played with the program. He’ll assist Jason Oliver with the 16U team this season, and has been a head coach previously.
“I’ve got a lot of experience in the game, going back to when I was a little kid,” Carney said. “Hockey is the same at all ages really – you want the kids to have fun and improve each year.
“It has been great for me to have an outlet to share my love of the game. I love kids and have five of my own – I enjoy being around kids and trying to help them learn. It’s all about the kids – being someone who can push them and advocate for them.”
Morris has enjoyed the challenge of translating his experience in the game to young players who are constantly processing new concepts.
“As a former professional player, I have a lot of information in my head, and the biggest challenge for me is to distill that information and pass that along to a young kid who is still learning the game,” Morris said. “I believe in my children and other kids finding their way at these ages and figuring out the game themselves. The coaches have to be there to provide the means for the kids to do that, but the kids follow the coaches’ lead and really figure things out.”
Morris and Carney clearly have a comfort level with the Bobcats and philosophically agree with the direction Filion is taking the program.
“Ron is always trying to help the kids develop and extend their hockey careers as long as possible,” Carney said. “When we joined the program, you could see that passion in him, and that’s contagious.”
— Greg Ball
(Oct. 5, 2017)