Swift Current Broncos Hall of Famer Andy Schneider is leaving the organization's coaching staff to become a WHL scout for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
Schneider spent one season as an Assistant Coach with the Broncos and still believes he has a future in coaching.
"It's one of those opportunities where I probably shouldn't pass this one up," Schneider said. "Still involved in the game. To get back into coaching it's hard if you step away and if I would have done something completely different it's hard to get back into it sometimes. I'm still in it at a different level and I still could get back into coaching someday."
Full interview with Andy Schneider:
Schneider is excited about working with a team in the middle of a building process.
"It's a good opportunity to work with a team that is on the bottom," Schneider said. "There's going to be huge room for improvement. Next year's draft (we have) two first round picks for sure and depending what happens with (Rick) Nash we could have three or possibly more... that could be huge for the hockey club."
He's looking forward to working with his friend and former Broncos teammate Tyler Wright, who is the Development Coach of the Blue Jackets.
"We've known each other a long time," Schneider noted. "We played together, we lived together. We're going to have some fun, but I'm sure we will have our battles as well."
The longtime professional player is hopeful he will have a good eye for talent.
"The first thing I would be looking for would be hockey sense," Schneider said. "I don't see a lot of players with hockey sense and you can pick them out right away. Obviously with today's game you have to be able to skate, but if you don't have the hockey sense, you don't have the smarts and you can't think the game it's pretty tough to play."
As for the Broncos, Schneider's departure leaves them with a hole to fill on their coaching staff.
"We talked about his role after the season was over," said Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb. "He wanted to get more involved in the coaching part and the hockey part. We wanted to get him more involved... more practice time, more travel, more scouting. That's what we were trying to do (but) an opportunity came up with Columbus after the draft."
Full Interview with Mark Lamb:
Despite managing with only two coaches in Lamb's first two seasons in Swift Current, the Broncos still intend to replace Schneider in some fashion.
"We'll get it out there, find out who is available... pick the right person for building this program," Lamb said. "It will depend on who is available and what they can do. Maybe it's just a total off ice person that does the conditioning... with the diet and all that. It's tough to get a guy like Andy. His experience playing hockey is what I really liked... because there's so many different things that happen in a long career. When you can run that by a player that has gone through it, it really helped me out. To fill both roles (Schneider filled) will probably be a little tougher."
Schneider was pleased with his coaching experience.
"It was an unbelievable experience," the former Bronco exclaimed. "It was very exciting. I really enjoy being around the kids and trying to give them my insight on my experiences. I had a busy schedule last year but those were the few hours that I really enjoyed."
His experience with Swift Current could give him the inside edge on a couple of draft eligible prospects playing for the Broncos.
"I'm a big fan of Dillon Heatherington and Colby Cave," Schneider noted. "They're character players and I'm going to be watching them closely this year (to) see how they progress."
Schneider played parts of four seasons for Swift Current in the early 90s. He scored 91 goals and had 221 assists in 212 games as a Bronco and was the playoff MVP during the team's 1993 Western Hockey League Championship run. The Edmonton native went on to play 10 NHL games with Ottawa before embarking on a long pro career in Europe.
He now lives in Swift Current and is part owner of BodyFit. He will be scaling back his duties at the gym, but plans to maintain his popular summer hockey training program.