By Tina Comeau
The new head coach of the Yarmouth Mariners is neither an unfamiliar name nor an unfamiliar face to the fans and players of the junior A organization – the big difference, however, is this time he’s on their side.
The Mariners have announced that Jim Bottomley is the new head coach and general manager of the team. Most recently, Bottomley had been the head coach of the Amherst Ramblers for the last three seasons.
About coming to the Yarmouth bench, Bottomley said in an interview with the Yarmouth Vanguard, “It’s one of the best hockey organizations in the Maritime league right now. They’ve had great success over the years. Players are wanting to come here to play. We’ve had a winning tradition from before and we’ve just got to bring that back,” he says.
So how does Bottomley see bringing that back?
“We’re going to start right from the recruiting. We want guys who play with no fear. Guys who are going to play the same at home as on the road,” he says, adding that being so far geographically from other teams is something the Mariners need to use as an advantage rather than a hindrance when it comes to traveling to away games. Let the other teams struggle with the travel, he says.
“When we get off the bus we have to be ready,” says Bottomley, adding about the upcoming season, “We’re going to reload and provide the fans with an atmosphere and a team that is going to be competitive and give us an opportunity to win every night.”
The Bottomley announcement wasn't the only one made on Monday, May 12. The Mariners announced that former Mariners player and captain Jordan Scott has been named an assistant coach. Timothy Garden-Cole and John Murphy are staying on the bench.
Last year the Mariners team was knocked out of the playoffs after losing two consecutive games to Valley Wildcats in the mini-series and the year prior to that the team was ousted in the first round by Bottomley’s Ramblers. At the conclusion of this past season the Mariners ownership opted to let go of head coach Laurie Barron. In a coincidence of timing, days later Bottomley also found himself unemployed as the Ramblers management decided to terminate Bottomley’s contract. He admits to being shocked when that happened, coming on the heels of taking the team through a playoff run for the third consecutive year. The team management called it a business decision, saying, among other team expenses, it couldn’t afford to pay Bottomley’s travel expenses since he was living in Halifax and commuting to Amherst.
Bottomley says he will be living in Yarmouth. He says applying for the coaching position wasn’t about needing a job, but rather about staying involved in hockey.
Mariners’ owner Mitch Bonnar says the team received many applications for the coaching position but Bottomley stood out among them all.
“Jim comes to the Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners with a strong background of producing winning teams. His knowledge of the game is second to none,” says Bonnar. “Today a new chapter begins that will take the Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners to the top and deliver our fans even more quality hockey. In saying that, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the 1,500 fans that come out every game and cheer the players on. They are always the seventh player on the ice.”
About the fans and their reception of Bottomley on the opposing bench during the seasons, it’s difficult to peg whether they love him, or love to hate him. He says the fan base and atmosphere is another thing that excites him about coaching the Mariners.
“I’m usually hated (when I’m on the other team) because I want to win so bad,” he says, admitting that he also plays with the fans a bit, feeding into their energy. “It’s all part of the game.”
There was some friendly banter between the fans and Bottomley during the announcement.
Bottomley also admits that he used to hate the puck banging that went on in the Mariners Centre on the glass at the end of the arena. It really, he says, got under the skin of the visiting teams. Now, though, he’d love to see it come back. (It wasn’t allowed by rink management last season over concerns of potential damage to the glass.)
The two assistant coaches for the Mariners will remain the same for the upcoming 2014-15 season. Timothy Garden-Cole and John Murphy will be on the bench with Bottomley.
“I am looking forward to working with Jim, on and off the bench,” says Garden-Cole. “His knowledge of the game along with his experience will be an asset to our team and our fans.”
Meanwhile, preparing for the upcoming season begins right away, with the recruitment of players and the upcoming MHL entry draft in June.
“I hope to finalize it with Mr. Bonnar, but I have my scouting staff with me that are available, they’ve done quite a bit of work all year. We’ve talked to players from outside that we were going to bring to Amherst that are definitely not going there, so we’ll work on getting them down this way,” Bottomley says. “We’re looking at bringing in some quality kids.”
The Mariners organization has submitted a bid to host the RBC Cup in 2016. Asked if this was an incentive to taking the coaching position, Bottomley says obviously it would be nice to host an RBC Cup. The location has not yet been announced.
“Fortunately for me I won a Royal Bank Cup championship in 2002 in Halifax,” he says, but hosting it would be a great opportunity for the fans and the team.
Although new to the bench, the Mariners team is not completely new to Bottomley. His first experience with the Mariners came as a parent, when his son Jarret played with the organization from 2003 to 2005.
“I want to bring in a team that is a good physical team, a hard-working team and every night has the opportunity to win,” says Bottomley. “When you’re coaching, there’s nothing better than having a good competitive club and the fans that want to support the hockey club. When they’re there for you every night you want to give something back.”
ABOUT JIM BOTTOMLEY:
Bottomley has a long history of junior A coaching. He’s had 10 junior A championships with his respective teams. He’s a winner of the Fred Page Cup. He’s been to five RBC national junior A championships, winning one and placing second in another. He’s been a coach for Team Atlantic, a Canada Games team and an assistant with the Halifax Mooseheads. He created the Halifax Lions, now the Valley Wildcats and the Halifax W