It is hard to keep a good man down. And experience, vision and values are just some of what prompted the Timmins Majors of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League to tap 58-year old Steve Polyblank as their new head coach for the looming 2022-2023 season.
Polyblank takes over from 28-year old Kevin Walker as the new bench boss of the U18 Timmins program. Walker recently departed the Majors after one season to become the new general manager and head coach of the Red Lake Miners of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League.
Majors general manager Ron Holmes gave his organization’s views on the hiring of Polyblank, who has more than a dozen years experience as a coach in the GNU18HL, having been on the bench with the erstwhile Kirkland Lake Legion 87s and, more recently, the New Liskeard Cubs. He was also an assistant coach with Team NOHA at the 2022 OHL Cup tournament.
“We underwent an exhaustive process in which we looked very closely at a number of outstanding candidates to be the next coach of the Timmins Majors and the one individual we kept coming back to throughout was Steve Polyblank,” said Holmes. “Steve understands the standard that has been set here in recent years for how we expect to play on the ice and how we represent our city and fans off the ice. He shares our values and our vision for what it means to be a Timmins Major and where we want to go as a team.
“Steve is the right person to lead our team moving forward,” added Holmes, “and while we are it, we wish Kevin Walker all the best in Red Lake and thank him for all of his time and passion that he put into the Majors program.”
Polyblank, meanwhile, told Hockey News North that he didn’t expect to be coaching this season. He said he applied to return to New Liskeard for the upcoming season “but the executive decided to go in a different route and bring someone else in. And that is fine. But then Ron Holmes called me when the opening came up in Timmins and he asked me if I would be interested in pursuing the position. I then had a call with Ron and members of the executive and we worked things out. I still wanted to coach and this is a new opportunity over in Timmins and I am thankful to Ron and the Majors executive for their trust in me.”
Originally from Kirkland Lake, Polyblank resides in New Liskeard, which is about a two hour and change drive to Timmins along the Trans Canada Highway of northeastern Ontario. “I want to coach and I will make this work,” he said. “I am looking forward to a fresh start in Timmins.”
Notably, the Cubs of New Liskeard and the Majors of Timmins have a longstanding rivalry in the Great North loop that dates back many, many years. And as for the well thought of, credible Polyblank, one door may have closed in New Liskeard, but another has opened in Timmins.