IceDogs axe Fitzgerald (updated with comments from captain Landon Cato)
Daniel Fitzgerald has been dismissed as head coach of the Niagara IceDogs. File photo: BILL POTRECZ.
The captain of the Niagara IceDogs feels it is up to the players to take ownership of the team’s poor start in the wake of the firing of head coach Dan Fitzgerald.
“I think there was something that needed to be changed — not necessarily that it has anything to do with the staff— but it’s a bit harder to change all the players so this was kind of a way to wake us up,” Landon Cato said Monday following practice. “It puts the onus on us now, everything that goes on the ice, it’s up to us. Our staff showed us they are trying everything they can to make us good and now it comes down to the players on the ice and in the locker room.
The IceDogs announced Monday they have parted ways Fitzgerald following a 4-10-3 start. The IceDogs are 19th overall in the 20 team Ontario Hockey League.
“It was a very difficult decision. This is a performance-based position and we felt that our team is a lot better than the record shows,” IceDogs general manager Darren DeDobbelaer said. “Daniel is one of the highest character people I have known and this was a difficult decision to make.”
Since taking over the team in June, DeDobbelaer, who named himself GM, has made a multitude of trades involving 22 players and 47 draft picks.
“It’s a new team. That’s running thin as many times as people are saying it but it’s a new team and you have to look at it like that too,” Cato said. “You’re getting a bunch of players who are great at what they do and they’re all trying to come together to compliment each other’s game. Right now, the way we’re trying to win games and prepare for games, maybe isn’t exactly how it should be or maybe it’s the fact that some of the guys we have now on this roster, we need to figure a way to gell together to have our skills compliment each other.”
Jeff Angelidis, who was part of the Brantford 99ers coaching staff of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, will serve as interim head coach.
Angelidis and assistant coach Brandon Shaw ran practice Monday.
“It was a great practice, a long, hard practice,” Cato said. “Not much in the way of systems, it was getting our work boots on and go to work with each other. It opened everyone’s eyes. We have a lot more skill than the way we’re playing.
“This is our team.”
Cato said the team and staff have had multiple meetings recently and plan more team bonding nights.
“We’re going in the right direction , for sure,” Cato said.
Angelidis, 45, began his playing career in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, was a student-athlete in the NCAA, and also played professionally in the Southern Professional Hockey League and in Europe.
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