Good friends and coaches

August 30, 2022
Brent Hughes

Brent Hughes and John Dean have been best buddies for many years. And now the two long-time friends are working together as coaches with the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 40-year old Hughes is the latest assistant coach addition to the new-look staff of the Greyhounds under the soon to be 42-year old Dean, who has been the Soo’s bench boss for three seasons. Hughes fills the vacancy created by the recent departure of 37-year old Jamie Tardif, who left his assistant coach position of three seasons with the Greyhounds to take a similar job with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League. Hartford is the top farm club of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League.

As Hughes comes to the Soo highly recommended by Dean, Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis is the one who finalized the hiring after a good first impression.

“In my first conversations with (Hughes) it was his attention to detail and passion for coaching that stood out to me.  With his time as both head and assistant coach we feel he will be a great addition to (Dean’s) bench staff,” Raftis relayed.

“Brent’s role is massive in terms of the development of our players and with his strong background and experience we feel like it will give us a great fit as we continue to push the next wave of Soo Greyhounds,” Raftis added in further praise of Hughes.

Hughes certainly brings a lot to the Hound pound in terms of high level coaching and playing experience.

Among his coaching gigs, Hughes spent three winning seasons as an assistant with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League from 2016 until 2019. He was then the head coach of the Espanola Express (recently rebranded as the Espanola Paper Kings) during the abbreviated 2020-2021 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season and led the team to a 5-4-3 record over 12 games. At that time, Hughes told Hockey News North that he was initially recommended for the Espanola job by his good friend, the aforementioned John Dean.

Hughes opted not to return to Espanola for the 2021-2022 season and concentrated on operating his BH Hockey Development Business.

At any rate, prior to his stints as a head coach in the NOJHL with Espanola and assistant coach with Cape Breton in the QMJHL, the Toronto native was also a player/coach overseas at the pro level for the Scotland-based Dundee Stars. Among other stops, Hughes has also coached in the minor pro ranks and with the North York Rangers of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

And during his playing days as a forward, Hughes totalled nine years of pro hockey in North America and Europe after having suited up for the Peterborough Petes and Brampton (now North Bay) Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.

John Dean

Now, with all of his experience, Hughes gets to coach in the OHL under Dean as one of two new Greyhound assistants.

“I am extremely excited to join such an historic franchise. Thank you to Kyle Raftis and John Dean for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get to work,” said Hughes, who arrived in Sault Ste. Marie last week in time for the beginning of the Greyhounds training camp prior to the start of the 2022-2023 OHL season.

The hiring of Hughes to replace Tardif is the second assistant coaching change by the Greyhounds in a short span.

Earlier, the Greyhounds filled a coaching vacancy on their staff that was created by the departure of Jordan Smith to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League as an assistant coach under former Hounds bench boss Drew Bannister. (Springfield is the top farm club of the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League.)

Brendan Taylor was hired as an assistant coach by the Greyhounds to replace Smith after spending the previous six seasons on the coaching staff of the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads. The 33-year Taylor originally joined the Steelheads as a video coordinator before being promoted to assistant coach.

“Brendan is going to be an excellent addition to our coaching staff this upcoming season,” relayed aforementioned Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis. “He brings a distinctive understanding of the development path of a modern day defenceman, and with his experience as both a player and coach in the OHL, we believe he’ll bring a unique perspective to our bench this season and will support our players and staff to continue pushing their development.

“We feel that we have really rounded out our coaching staff with the additions of both Brendan Taylor and Brent Hughes,” Rafts summed up.

As a player, Taylor skated in 120 OHL games, suiting up as a forward for the Peterborough Petes, Belleville Bulls and Saginaw Spirit. He also played briefly in the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League and at the minor pro level.

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