Former coach Matheson stepping back due to health issues
BROOKFIELD – The Brookfield Elks will be led by a team of coaches for the remainder of the season in the absence of Hughie Matheson.
Elks general manager Joel Dawe said Monday everyone on the coaching staff will have their fair share of input with the team due to the departure of 73-year-old Matheson, who had been serving as head coach but is suffering from health problems caused by kidney stones.
The Elks (2-7-0-1), last in the six-team Fred Fox Division in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, host the Antigonish Bulldogs (3-4-1-0) tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex.
“It’s going to be a collaborative effort,” Dawe said. “Hugh will still have input and will be heavily involved as an associate coach, but the other coaches and myself will be in there too.”
The group will be led by Josh Boulton, an assistant under Matheson and former head coach of the Elks who has been given the head coaching title for the rest of the season. However, his availability is limited due to family and work commitments, leading Dawe down the coaching-by-committee route.
“We knew that going in,” Dawe said.
But Dawe still wanted to give Boulton the reins because of his previous experience with the team – he served as head coach from 2007-08 to 2009-10 – and because Boulton likes his skaters playing the same hard-working style Matheson had expected.
“Regardless of who is behind the bench, the message will be the same,” Dawe said. “Their personal styles will be different but the style of play will be the same.”
Matheson had been experiencing complications from the stones throughout the summer and finally stepped back after the fourth game of the season.
Matheson took over the team in January after Kevin Harvey was sent packing. Matheson helped the team to the Division final, falling in seven games to the eventual league champion Sackville Blazers.
Well known and loved in the community, Matheson guided the Truro Bearcats to seven provincial junior hockey titles in nine seasons in the 1970s. He also coached Nova Scotia to a pair of Canada Games silver medals in hockey in 1975 and 1979 and was at the helm of the Elks senior men's softball team which won a national title in 1980.
He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 2004.
Dawe said he doesn’t feel the changes behind the bench will hamper the team’s performance on the ice.
“There’s no reason why,” he said. “We’ve got a very young team and we’ve been in every game this season with the exception of two. I’m very confident we can compete with any team in our division as long as the guys all buy in and everyone pulls in the same direction.”
On Twitter: @tdnmatt