Doug Laprade, who was part of National Collegiate Athletic Association championship teams as both a player and assistant coach with the Lake Superior State Lakers, is the new head coach of the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
A product of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the affable, soon-to-be-50-year-old Laprade has resided in the Michigan Soo since he first arrived on scholarship to play Division 1 hockey at Lake Superior State in 1987.
As a hard-driven, two-way right winger, Laprade was part of the Lakers national championship team of 1988 under mercurial head coach Frank Anzalone. Laprade also became a National Hockey League draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 1988.
In 1992, as a volunteer assistant coach, Laprade was part of another national championship team at Lake Superior State under esteemed bench boss Jeff Jackson, who is now the head coach of the NCAA powerhouse Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Laprade had a later, three-year stint at Lake Superior State as an assistant coach under head coach Jim Roque.
As a head coach, Laprade has a winning past that includes a four-year run with the Sault High Blue Devils in which he amassed a standout, overall record of 70-32-7.
His other credentials include being a Level 4 instructor for USA Hockey coaching clinics.
In taking on the job as head coach of the NOJHL Eagles, Laprade replaces Jim Capy, whose contract was not renewed after three full seasons at the helm of the Michigan Soo squad.
Eagles part owner and general manager Bruno Bragagnolo told Hockey News North that he is “really excited” to have Laprade on board.
“Doug has a wealth of teaching and coaching experience at the high levels of hockey,” Bragagnolo noted. “He also has a ton of contacts at the junior and college levels.”
Bragagnolo sees the firm-but-fair and well-grounded Laprade as a coach who will relate well to and with players.
“He will be a great asset to our players moving forward,” Bragagnolo added. “Players will be able to gain a lot of the little things that make a difference since Doug played the game at a high level and for good coaches.”
From his end, Laprade began by wanting to thank Bragagnolo and Eagles primary owner Ron Lavin.
“It is an honour to be given the opportunity to coach for a respected organization like the Soo Eagles and in the caliber of the league that the NOJHL is,” Laprade said. “I have watched a number of NOJHL games over the past several years and it is a good league that has moved a lot of players to higher levels.”
Laprade, who is in the process of forming his staff of assistant coaches, said he equates a hockey team to family.
“Once the team is picked it is important to get players settled in and comfortable with the program,” Laprade emphasized. “There may be a move or two made over the course of a given season but I like to start the year off with a group of players and help them improve and develop. I am not a big fan of shuffling players in and out.”
Laprade said his coaching style is dependent on the skill level of the players.
“The way I look at it, as a coach you adapt to what you have, not just make them do what you want to do,” Laprade said evenly.
The Eagles play their games out of venerable Pullar Stadium, which is where the high school Blue Devils also call home.
“I am familiar with the quirks that come with playing at the Pullar. It is a rink that we can really use to our advantage,” Laprade noted.
Laprade resides in the Michigan Soo with his wife Pam (Bullock.) They have two children, Ryan and Kristen.
PHOTO: Doug Laprade, as a player with Lake Superior State, circa 1988, and as a coach with the Lakers, a few years back.