The slate in the coaches office has been wiped clean. As the Soo Greyhounds prep for the 2018-2019 season following a 2017-2018 campaign that did not result in expected victory, there are new coaches at the helm.
Head coach John Dean, associate coach Jordan Smith and assistant coach Jamie Tardif have taken over the respective duties of Drew Bannister, Joe Cirella and Ryan Ward, who have all moved up to the minor pro, American Hockey League.
None of the newcomers has been a head coach at the Ontario Hockey League level, though Dean (North Bay Battalion) and Smith (Sudbury Wolves) have been assistants.
All are young. Dean is 37-years old, Tardif is 33 and Smith is 32.
All know what it takes to play in the league as all three are OHL grads of multiple seasons apiece, Dean with the erstwhile North Bay Centennials, Tardif with the Peterborough Petes and Smith with his hometown Greyhounds.
All have been lauded by Greyhound general manager Kyle Raftis as students of the game with the ability to teach.
As there has been a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, so too have there been departures aplenty among the player ranks.
Having loaded up with 19-year old players in 2017-2018, the Greyhounds went all out in a bold bid to win the OHL championship only to be upset in stunning fashion by the underdog Hamilton Bulldogs.
Hamilton, which finished 23 points behind the Soo during the 2017-2018 regular season, was clearly the better team when it ousted the top-ranked Greyhounds in six games to win the OHL title.
The Bulldogs were better prepared, were in better condition and seemed more willing to pay the price for victory in upending the Greyhounds. It might also be said that Hamilton held a physical advantage over the Soo in winning the OHL championship series in a decisive, no-doubt manner.
At any rate, back to what potentially lies ahead for the Greyhounds in 2018-2019.
The graduation of so many major minute skaters has reduced the Greyhounds from a powerhouse unit to a mid-grade team as the upcoming season looms.
Besides those who have aged out, there is also uncertainty among the Greyhound import class.
As they sped through the OHL with a strut and a swagger in 2017-2018, a due course of reality and humility should be in store for the 2018-2019 edition of the Greyhounds.
At this stage of the calendar year with games yet to be played and player transactions expected to be consummated, any forecast as to where the Greyhounds will end up placing in the Western Conference standings would be about as predictable as the long-range weather outlook.
It could be said, though, that teams the Greyhounds looked down on in 2017-2018 may be taking a glance in the rear view mirror at the reigning Western Conference champions in 2018-2019.
The Greyhound coaches from 2017-2018 have all moved up.
And now it is up to the Greyhound coaches of 2018-2019 to move forward.
The smooth ride of 2017-2018 ground to a halt, two victories short of championship success.
And there figures to be more than a few bumps on the road over the course of the 2018-2019 season.
While business and activity in downtown Sault Ste. Marie are on the upswing, the hockey in Houndtown will require somewhat of a touch up before it can be painted bright red again.
But that is simply the price of doing business in what can be a topsy-turvy OHL.
PHOTO: New Soo Greyhounds coach John Dean.