In a show of respect, 10 of Mike Madill’s former teammates showed up Friday at Orleans Arena to watch the former Wranglers team captain get introduced as the team’s new coach and general manager.
Either that or they wanted to get one last haircut from Madill before he became their boss.
“We’re all here because we support him. We have a lot of respect for him. He’s done a lot for everyone,” Las Vegas tough guy Adam Huxley said. “The only crappy thing now is he probably won’t be able to cut all the guys’ hair. He’s the hairdresser for the team. Now we have to find another one.”
Aside from losing their hairdresser/defenseman/captain, the Wranglers players in attendance were thrilled for the 30-year-old Madill and expect him to excel in his new role.
“I think most of the guys were pretty surprised. We didn’t really expect it, but we’re all behind him 100 percent. It couldn’t happen to a better guy,” said Andrew Sarauer, Las Vegas’ leading scorer last season. “He’s a leader on and off the ice, and we all know he’s going to be a good coach.
“He’s a guy everyone respects in the locker room.”
A former ECHL All-Star who retired after a seven-year playing career — including five seasons with the Wranglers — Madill was working construction with his brother-in-law and contemplating his future when the opportunity arose to coach.
Las Vegas owner Gary Jacobs and president Billy Johnson asked Madill if he’d be interested in the job Tuesday, shortly after they told former coach Ryan Mougenel he wouldn’t be offered a contract for next season.
“My body was not feeling so amazing by the end of the year,” Madill said. “To get that call Tuesday night, I had a lot of mixed feelings going through me. But it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m honored to coach this team.”
Jacobs said Madill has all the attributes he wants in a coach.
“Mike’s a great communicator, and he’s got the respect of his players, and that was a big quality we wanted,” he said. “Based on the things we’ve seen from him on and off the ice, he’s going to be a great head coach.”
Aside from hockey schools, Madill has no coaching experience, but his father was a college coach, his twin brother is a prep coach in Toronto, and he has acted as a veritable player-coach for the Wranglers.
“Inexperience is a matter of context,” Johnson said. “I would say he’s very experienced being a very integral part of leading this team to the (ECHL Kelly Cup) Finals last year.”
Madill said he isn’t worried about his lack of experience. He credits Mougenel with teaching him about coaching when he assisted him on the bench this season when he was injured.
“He kind of allowed me to learn situations and different problems to deal with and ways to handle everything,” he said. “I learned a lot from him.”
Madill shouldn’t have a problem recruiting. Huxley said he already has heard from a plethora of players who said they’d love to play for “Diller.”
Madill played three seasons for the Wranglers under Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, who guided Las Vegas to the ECHL Finals in 2008, and the last two under Mougenel.
Madill said he’s excited for the challenge.
“I don’t think it will be a problem finding a very, very competitive team,” he said. “I want to prove a lot of people right and prove a lot of people wrong that I can do this job and keep people motivated and positive.”
If all else fails, he could cut hair.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.