Exactly how does a former player, with just a single season of coaching experience (in the Danish second division, no less) find himself on the ice as a
coach with Team Canada?
Brandon Reid isn’t sure, but he’s not complaining.
With a résumé that includes bronze medals at the 2000 and 2001 IIHF World Junior Championships, and a second-place finish at the 2006 Spengler Cup, Reid
knows how to be successful on the international stage.
And when he decided to call it a career as a player at the end of the 2013-14 season, he knew his passion for the game would still need to fuel itself; the
logical answer was to give coaching a try.
But after stepping behind the bench with Vojens IK in Denmark last season (where he also served as director of player development in addition to his head
coaching duties), the Kirkland, Que., native was looking to come back home to coach on North American ice.
The call came from Hockey Canada earlier this summer to help out at Canada’s National Sledge Team development camp, and there was no way he was going to
turn down the offer, especially considering his history in red and white.
“Hockey Canada changed my whole career, so I’m very grateful to be able to give back to them,” says Reid. “I was able to make the World Juniors the first
season I tried out for them (in 2000), and I think that helped put me on the map [as a player].
“I really believe that I wouldn’t have had the career I had if Hockey Canada hadn’t given me that chance to represent my country.”
Which leads back to the original question – how does someone with so little coaching experience earn a spot with Team Canada?
“It’s the experience he brings and the pride that comes with having worn that jersey that we liked,” says Shawn Bullock, senior manager of hockey
operations and men's national teams with Hockey Canada.
“He knows our expectations, and he’s one of those guys that is going to continue to impress upon our players what we’re looking for in a Canadian athlete,
and doing things the Canadian way. He’s a great fit for this team.”
So he’s got the Team Canada part of the position covered, but how can he help when it comes to sledge hockey, a sport he admits he had never seen live
before he got to Calgary? The answer lies in the smallest of details.
Thanks to a 13-year professional career that started in the AHL and NHL (he played 13 games with the Vancouver Canucks from 2002-07) before making its way
to Germany, Switzerland and eventually Russia, Reid has literally been around the world playing the game he loves.
And apart from seeing countless styles on Olympic-size ice, Reid also has personal experiences to share and relate to every single player at camp.
“Throughout my career I’ve been a leader, a quiet guy, the top scorer, the third-line checker and I’ve played on all the special teams,” he says of the way
he’s had to play the game. “There are so many guys here who’ll have to play different roles and I think it’s good to have someone like myself to talk to
Reid was an offensive player throughout his career, but evolved into more of a shutdown centre in the latter stages of his career. With experience in both
roles, he feels he can share his offensive flair and defensive responsibilities with a few of the players and get them to focus on the little details that
they either don’t see, or don’t know of yet.
“It’s about getting those extra chances in the game,” he says. “I know it’s tough to get 20 shots or more in a sledge game, so I’m hoping to help guys bear
down on their chances with a few tricks of the trade that I learned over the years.”
More than 15 years after leading Canada in scoring at the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championship, Reid knows this opportunity – even if it is a one-time
chance (the coaching invite was for development camp only) – is all about sharing his experience, all the while learning as much as possible from others.
He is proof that no matter where or how long you’ve played the game of hockey, there is always more to learn.
And it’s fitting, to be doing it right back where it all began.