Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Day After - Wallin Stands Tall

"I'm still a Red Deer Rebel, I always will be."

No hard feelings.

It would have been quite easy for Jesse Wallin to ride off quietly and leave us all wondering he was thinking. 

Instead, the now former head coach of the Red Deer Rebels invited the local media out for one last chat as his way of saying "thanks" and to share his thoughts on his dismissal.

Wallin says he is still digesting what took place on Wednesday but assures everyone that he won't be wasting any time sulking.

"I had a coach myself that once told me you get a day to feel sorry for yourself then you pick up the next day and get back after it.  So that's where I'm at."

He genuinely seems at peace with the move.  Already looking on the bright side, Wallin plans to take full advantage of the opportunity he's now been given.

"I'm not in any big rush or big hurry.  I just want to spend some time with my family and get reacquainted with some friends and take some time to digest things and see what comes my way."

Jesse did confess that he had a tough time sharing the news of his firing with others... namely his kids and Bryce Thoma.

"We had a little 'man moment' there where it was a tough moment for both of us.  We've been [coaching] together for five years now and we've become very good friends.  When you spend as much time together as we have and are in the trenches, you become very close.  What happened yesterday won't change that."

Wallin has definitely earned the right to take his time in deciding his future.  All he will say for now is that when the time eventually comes to make that decision, all options will be on the table.

"Am I gonna coach again?  I don't know.  I know I love doing it, I am passionate about it.  And yet I am also very passionate about my family and living here in Red Deer.  This has become my home... my wife is from Rimbey and this is home for her... I've got a lot of different interests.  I love hockey and love the game and would love to stay in it and yet at the same time it's not my complete identity either.  I'm open to staying in the game and yet I'm gonna explore some other opportunities as well.  If there's something else that's a better fit that will allow us to stay in Red Deer, we'll look at that.  At the same time, if there's an opportunity in the hockey world that I can't turn down then we may have to temporarily leave Red Deer."

Could his future include a return to the Rebels organization in a different capacity?  Perhaps.  But don't hold your breath waiting on anything imminent.

"Brent and I discussed that briefly.  We decided to sit down in a couple of weeks and kinda see where that goes.  I really haven't given that any thought at this point in time.  I won't rule that out."

One thing that hasn't changed in the wake of Wednesday's coaching change... the close personal relationship between Wallin and Sutter.  They've been through a lot together but have always managed to keep the personal and professional aspects of their relationship separate.  And for that, Wallin is truly grateful.

"He's a very good friend, I owe a lot to Brent.  He and I very are close, that's no secret.... I've always been very forthright with him that if the time ever came that we had to separate that and that if this [coaching change] was the best thing for the organization that I didn't want him holding back on that because of our relationship."

Something else Wallin is grateful... the amount of well wishes he has received since his dismissal was announced.

"I have been absolutely overwhelmed to the point of almost shock," Wallin admitted.  "Friends and family, people from the community, fans, people from the hockey world... just really, really touched with the support."

In the end, Wallin echoed Sutter's belief that the players were no longer buying into what the coach was selling. 

"It certainly felt like at times the message was falling on deaf ears.  Why that is I'm not exactly sure.  I spent a lot of time thinking about it not just yesterday but over the last two months.  I have my own thoughts and theories on that... there's some things that are in your control and some that aren't."

[ To hear Jesse's entire chat with the local media... the ever diligent JW has it posted over at Rebel Rebellion ]


Here's a sampling of what Rebels players had to say regarding Wallin's firing (following their first practice under Coach Sutter this afternoon at the Kinex Arena)...

Turner Elson... "It's obviously a change that Brent thought was [needed].  We didn't have a good start to the season and we know that.  We really appreciate what Jesse has done here.  He's been a great coach, great person, and a great friend to me and I hope he finds work soon and that he keeps going because he really is a class act."

Joel Hamilton... "Didn't really know what to think about it at first... but it will be nice to get a change and I think we had a good day on the ice today and it's the start of good things to come.  This change will just be an opportunity for guys to kinda kick start and have a fresh start, almost like a new season."

Bolton Pouliot... "Jesse was one of the best coaches I've ever had.  He pushed you in ways that other coaches wouldn't have."

(Plenty to come on Friday... including comments from new Associate Coach Jeff Truitt, new Rebels forward Rhyse Dieno, and more)


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