Presence and experience of Sam Zajac key to Leeds Chiefs’ recruitment

THE combination of player-coach Sam Zajac and a fully-open Elland Road rink is likely to prove hard to resist in terms of Leeds’ Chiefs’ recruitment plans this summer, according to Joe Coulter.
Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Mark Ferriss.Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Mark Ferriss.
Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac. Picture courtesy of Mark Ferriss.

Zajac will again be in charge when the puck drops in September as the Chiefs embark on their second season in NIHL National – coronavirus crisis permitting.

The 2019-20 campaign may have ultimately proved disappointing with the Chiefs finishing bottom, but with Zajac able to begin his recruitment at the same time as his nine coaching rivals this time and with the team’s new rink up and running, there is an expectation Leeds will prove more competitive in 2020-21.

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And Coulter, the Scottish-born alternate captain signed last summer by Zajac, says there will be no shortage of players looking to come to Leeds.

MAIN MAN: Leeds Chiefs' Joe Coulter believes the presence of Sam Zajac will only aid the team's summer reruitment. Picture: Dean Woolley.MAIN MAN: Leeds Chiefs' Joe Coulter believes the presence of Sam Zajac will only aid the team's summer reruitment. Picture: Dean Woolley.
MAIN MAN: Leeds Chiefs' Joe Coulter believes the presence of Sam Zajac will only aid the team's summer reruitment. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“I honestly don’t think there is another coach in the league that could have done what Sam did last season,” said Coulter, expected to be among a core group of players Zajac is keen to retain for next season. “We came up against so much adversity, but his man-management skills were just brilliant – he did a great job of keeping everybody happy.

“Guys want to play for him. He’s a natural leader, he’s a charismatic guy and in terms of British players for next season, it will definitely work in the team’s favour with Sam in charge.

“They know he is a good guy, they know he is a good coach – he built this team’s never-say-die identity.

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“And with the new rink being open now, that will only help more in terms of bringing in some top-end guys.”

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