Brandin Cote has made a habit out of stepping into some big shoes or in this case, some big skates.
He jumped behind the bench of the Bentley Generals, taking over from Brian Sutter and this summer he took the job of bench boss for the Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs.
That would be the two-time national midget champion Chiefs coached by Doug Quinn.
So what is it with taking on these big challenges?
“I put myself in that position and I’m my own person. I’ve never wavered from that,” he said. “I’m not going to make those comparisons. Doug and Brian were great coaches and have done great things for the organizations they’ve been a part of.”
He is up front right away about taking away what he’s learned during his playing years and applying his own hockey philosophy to the current situation.
As far as coming into one of the most successful programs in the country, Cote says expectations have always been high where he’s been playing or coaching and his tenure behind the bench will be no different than previous regimes.
“I’m definitely here first and foremost for the kids, to help them develop as people and players,” he said.
Cote says he doesn’t mind coming into a situation where there are expectations to win but so far the winning has been tough with the Chiefs in the unfamiliar position of being down around the bottom of their division.
“Our team so far has battled through adversity but I think at the end of the day we’re really encouraged at how the kids are progressing even though from the outside looking in it doesn’t look like it has in the past.”
Cote says the team has four veterans on the roster with another coming back soon, and is missing some key players and having to rely heavily on affiliate players so it’s tough to get the chemistry needed early in the year.
“That’s not an excuse. It’s just a fact but the thing is with the way the program has gone, we’re going to get every team’s best game, every game,” he said. “I think it’s taken a bit of time for the kids who are new to the program to really realize that.”
He feels strongly about the steps the team has made over the course of a few weeks, pointing to a 1-0 loss against CAC where he felt the Chiefs deserved a better fate.
It has left him with a good feeling that what they’re doing is the right thing and if the players stick with it and remain positive, a turnaround in fortune is close at hand.
“Our expectation is they just come to work everyday and do the right things and be together as a team and stick up for each other and play the right way.”
Cote says there is some frustration from the players and the coaches in the way the season has started but he’s confident in what is being taught on the ice is the right approach.
“I really believe they are getting better as players. We have too deep of a team to say ‘Okay, it’s been good for five years’ to let that go.”
He admits he’d like to see better results but stands behind his players and staff that they will work through this rough patch.
“The old saying is it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to it and if you can kind of weather that storm it will make you better as a person and as a team going forward.”