Brandin Cote is eager to take the next step in his hockey journey.
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies announced last week that Cote, who coached in Red Deer for five years, would take over as interim head coach of the Huskies men’s hockey team after Mike Babcock resigned from the position he held for just one year.
The 41-year-old Swift Current, Sask. product served as an associate coach last season under Babcock when the Huskies lost in the Canada West Playoffs to the University of Calgary Dinos.
Cote said it’s a fantastic feeling to be named the head coach and is proud he’s getting the opportunity.
“My family is really happy and they love Saskatoon so that’s really good from a personal standpoint more than anything,” he said.
When he got hired for the associate coaching job last year the intent was for him to take over for Babcock once he resigned whenever that may have been.
“It’s not necessarily a shock but at the same time we didn’t really know when that was going to happen so it’s exciting,” he added.
“This year’s an important year to just continue to build upon what we did last year and there’s never guarantees in any job especially in coaching so I totally understand and I’m prepared for it and excited for the opportunity.”
After playing hockey for 16 years Cote went into coaching in 2011 which took him to a variety of leagues and teams.
He was an assistant coach for the Red Deer College Kings hockey team in the 2013-14 season before accepting the head coaching job for the Red Deer Chiefs U18 AAA from 2014 to 2016. After moving to Prince Albert, Sask. for a season as the assistant coach for the Raiders he returned to the Red Deer College Kings for the 2017-18 season.
“I love Red Deer. My family lives there in terms of my wife’s parents. I met my wife there and I have a lot of really good friends there. Red Deer’s a fantastic place I enjoyed my time both at Red Deer College and coaching the Chiefs. It’s a great spot, we miss it but at the same time our family here has really enjoyed the move to Saskatoon,” Cote said.
With Babcock’s departure, Cote said he learned a lot from him including his preparation and being an effective communicator.
“I feel I’m one of the hardest workers you’ll ever find but at the same time there’s another level to that and he emulated that every day,” he said.
“He’s an extremely hard worker, he’s very prepared, he’s very detailed, organized, likes things a certain way, very particular, and I think those things moving forward are reasons why he was successful throughout his career.”
Cote said one of the biggest lessons he’s learned as a coach is how to get the message across to players which can be different for every player.
“You have to understand and know what every player is about, what motivates them, what makes them tick, and I think that’s the most important thing is establishing relationships with your players. You can know all the systems and everything you want and we’ve obviously taken a lot of steps in that regard over the years.
“I think those are really important qualities of a good coach and you have to be firm, you have to be fair, you have to be caring and understanding but at the same time you have to make tough decisions and believe in your philosophy and communicate that to your team.”