Leeds NIHL National team owner Steve Nell on why Dave Whistle is the right man for the job

OWNER Steve Nell received a number of quality applications to be the new head coach at Leeds, but believes that, in Dave Whistle, he has found the perfect fit for the club.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 7:01 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th May 2021, 12:49 pm
WINNER: Dave Whistle, pictured on the Cardiff Devils bench in 2014, has a proven track record in coaching and GM duties. Picture courtesy of Richard Murray/Cardiff Devils.

The 55-year-old former Belfast Giants, Bracknell Bees and Cardiff Devils boss - who also had a brief stint in charge at Sheffield Steelers - was yesterday announced as the man to take Leeds forward.

He will effectively wear two hats, one as head coach, the other as the club’s General Manager, with responsibility for growing the brand in and around the city, attracting sponsors and the day-to-day running of the club.

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MAN HUNT: Steve Nell, new owner of Leeds' NIHL National team Picture: Steve Riding.

Nell will be on hand to oversee the whole operation and advise Whistle, who is expected to arrive in Leeds by mid-July.

“Obviously, we are very pleased to appoint Dave,” said Nell. “We believe we’ve got the right person, we had to get somebody who was a good fit for us and he certainly is that.

“His experience of UK hockey was a key factor. He might not know the current crop of younger players but he’s kept his eye on the game here, he understands the game here, that was important.”

Contact was initially made through the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, British Columbia, where Whistle has worked since 2014.

THE RIGHT MAN: Dave Whistle, right, with some youngsters from the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, where he has worked for the last six years. Picture courtesy of OHA.

Nell owns the UK franchise for the OHA, based in Swindon, and once it became clear that the Whistle was looking to return to the UK, a deal was done pretty quickly.

“I knew Dave wanted to come back over here, so it just made sense to connect with him,” explained Nell. “He went through the process of putting his application in like everybody else did with his cv.

“Then we had the interview and it just all made sense. I made some enquiries with people at the top levels of the game in this country and they were all saying good things about him, both as a person and as a coach.

“One of the things that was said to me on a couple of occasions was that his players would run through a brick wall for him. That’s the type of thing you want to hear when it comes to big decisions like this.”

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