|FTLComm - Tisdale - February 28, 2000|
|Brad took over the Tisdale Ramblers as the head coach at the beginning of the 1999
- 2000 season. It was pretty much a rebuilding situation, Tisdale had just finished
its second season of winning the league championship and the leading goal scorer
in the league had departed as had several outstanding veterans who had for years
been the mainstay of the team.
Darcy Simoneau and Darrel Mann had been team leaders and outstanding players for the Ramblers for more then a decade and when they left there was definite void to fill.
Being a player coach is not an easy task and Brad Kirkland had the able and confident assistance of Neil Elmslie and the support of long time manager Bob Price. There has been a tradition in hockey that coaches often tell more relying upon their talk and encouragement to produce a winning hockey team. Brad Kirkland had some thing far more persuasive than talk, he could show. And show he did, leading by example, he set about bringing on to the ice a team that had depth, conviction and flexibility.
Emphasising conditioning and strong skating skills, the Kirkland system showed extra ordinary promise from the first game of the season onward. A number of young players who had joined the team from Midget ranks the year before thought they were in good shape until they skated with Kirkland and in the first few games of the season you could see their amazement at the old guys on the team and how they had to hustle just to keep up. But in the long run good conditioning reduces injuries, makes the game easier to play and far more enjoyable to watch.
For most of the season Brad Kirkland not only coached the team but was among the team's leading scorers and his play from game to game set him apart as on ice leader. As a defenseman Brad Kirkland makes the game of hockey enormously simple. If the opposition bring the puck into your end of the rink, secure possession and charge down the ice with that puck and if possible put it in their net. A powerful hard skating single purposed player like Kirkland is almost impossible to stop when up to speed and roaring down the ice and time after time this winter every team in the league has had to endure charge after charge. It wouldn't have been that bad for them if it was only Kirkland they had to contend with but he spawned a whole team of aggressive "take the puck to the other end" guys. When you combine this attitude with smart passing and making use of the speed and agility of those young players it is easy to understand why Tisdale Ramblers have dominated the league in this their "rebuilding" year.
There is no question that Brad Kirkland is an outstanding player, coach and team leader and Tisdale fans join the rest of the fans in the league recognising this year's most valuable player.