When one comes into an interim situation during a season as a coach they can face a number of pressures. Being an alumni member of a team, former assistant coach and resident of the community can add pressures. None of these have been the case for Melfort Mustangs’ interim head coach Trevor Blevins in the first weeks of his duties.
“Everyone’s been very supportive I’ve felt a lot of support throughout the community so far and, to be honest, pressure is what you put on yourself. I feel very confident in the hockey club and the players we have and if we can continue to have great efforts good things should come,” said Blevins.
“The pressure is only what you put on yourself is what I like to say. I’ve been a player, I’ve been an assistant coach, I’ve been a sponsor, I’ve been a fan, so I have seen it from all different angles and to me I know what the expectations are and what needs to be done,” he explained.
The Mustangs return to the ice tonight () in Nipawin against the Hawks for the start of their traditional home-and-home New Year’s match up. The Mustangs are at home on ; game time is at the Northern Lights Palace.
The players on the Mustangs have also helped Blevins in his early tenure as Mustangs’ interim coach.
“They’ve been a very coachable group and I can’t say enough about how easy of a transition it has been for me,” Blevins said.
Blevins played his entire junior career in Melfort, 177 games, racking up 114 points while winning an SJHL Championship in 1996. Blevins is also from coaching stock as his father Al Blevins led the Melfort TMs.
Blevins returned to the bench in 2004 as an assistant coach to Darrell Mann after serving as head coach of the Junior B Tri Town Thunder the previous year. Blevins stayed in this position until 2010 when he left to take the role as general manager and head coach of the Tisdale Trojans.
Current Mustangs’ players who played for Blevins in Tisdale include local Jay Aasen and Sheldon Argent, rookie defenseman Dawven Berggren and goalie Austin Rediron. Affiliate player, current Trojan and local product Rylan Freed also played for Blevins with Tisdale.
Blevins has the same attitude behind the bench, no matter where that bench is.
“I’m a coach who demands first and foremost a hardworking effort. I think the Melfort Mustangs’ organization and the community of Melfort expect nothing less than that,” Blevins said.
“As far as wins and losses those will take care of themselves but if there is a great effort on the ice and players are playing to their full potential as far as working hard you can’t ask for anything more.”
Aasen pointed out that this attitude existed in Tisdale and continues to exist behind the Mustangs’ bench.
“He’s the exact same guy. He preaches hard work, if you work hard you are going to succeed,” Aasen said.
Both Aasen and Argent agreed that their effort on both ends of the ice is important under Blevins.
“He just preaches hard work and it was the same in Tisdale,” Aasen said.
“He’s still the exact same guy. I try to be the same player, you can’t change your game,” Aasen added.
The coaching philosophy has served Blevins as a good developmental model for players.
“By competing you can recover from those mistakes and that’s part of coaching, correcting those mistakes moving forward and that’s my goal to make sure every players gets better,” he said.
The Mustangs are in the competitive Sherwood Division so effort is important.
“In this league if you take a few shifts off as far as competing you’re going to be out of a hockey game. Mistakes happen in hockey, but as long as players are competing at a high level,” Blevins said.
Helping to ease the transition in Blevin’s first SJHL head coaching job has been assistant coach and interim general manager Dwight Kulchysky.
“Dwight’s a very experienced hockey man, he’s been involved in the SJHL for I think 13 years so it’s not his first rodeo. He has lots of knowledge from the General Manager side; he has lots of experience with that. It has been working very well so far,” Blevins said.
As far as feeling pressure from being a local coach with deep roots in an organization no one can say what the future holds, however Blevins remains optimistic.
“I just don’t feel that right now, maybe sometime during the season I will, but I’m enjoying going to the rink again. My experiences being a head coach in the past have helped me prepare for this experience,” he said.