An interim gig has turned into a full-time promotion for David Matsos.
The 41-year old Matsos, who spent his Ontario Hockey League playing career with the Soo Greyhounds, has been elevated from interim bench boss to actual head coach of the Sudbury Wolves.
Wolves president and general manager Blaine Smith confirmed to HockeyNewsNorth.com that Matsos will begin his first full season as Sudbury’s head coach in 2015-2016.
Matsos replaced the fired Paul Fixter as Wolves head coach 34 games into the 2014-2015 season.
With a record of 5-29-0, Sudbury did not improve in that regard under Matsos after Fixter was let go but Smith said that he, Wolves owner Mark Burgess and others were impressed with the standards set and changes made by the former Greyhound forward after he took over.
Smith said the Wolves will hire an experienced associate coach to assist Matsos behind the bench.
Meanwhile, Smith confirmed that as team owner, Burgess is looking to make changes with the Wolves hockey department in the aftermath of Sudbury finishing last in the 20-team OHL in 2014-2015 with a record of 12-54-2.
“We’re still looking at ways to improve the organization,” Burgess told the Sudbury Star. “We’re looking at all parts of the organization, from training staff to scouting staff to coaching staff to managerial staff. We’re going to fix this thing.
“We had a great draft, we have some good free agents coming in. We’re going to be a year older and we have lots of draft picks and ability to upgrade our team and I expect bigger and better things,” Burgess added. “There are going to be changes that will impact the operation of this team.”
Burgess said there is no question that Matsos deserves the opportunity to carry on as head coach of the Wolves.
“He’s a mature coach,” Burgess said of Matsos, who was an assistant with the Windsor Spitfires before joining the Wolves. “The boys played for him and I thought they worked hard for him. He’s a teacher and I think David’s strengths match up with where we are as an organization and the age of our team.”
Both Smith and Burgess want to bring in a seasoned, full-time assistant to the Wolves.
After Fixter was let go midway through last season, Matsos was assisted by veteran part-timer Bryan Verreault, who previously coached in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with moderate success.
Smith, meanwhile, is unsure if he will continue to be GM of the Wolves in 2015-2016 in addition to his duties as team president in which he oversees business and marketing operations.
“Mark (Burgess) has been suggesting that he is going to make changes in management and scouting so that will always remain on his agenda if the right new man comes along,” Smith told me. “In the meantime, I’m just doing my job along with (assistant GM) Ken MacKenzie, as always.
Looking ahead, Smith said he feels the Wolves are in good shape.
“I thought we had a pretty good draft this year…in fact I thought we had a good draft the last couple of years. We are in a transition year for sure with so many young players coming into the fold but it is a good problem to have, I think.”
A loyal employee of the Wolves spanning 30 years, Smith is highly-regarded in OHL circles as a consummate professional.