GLENS FALLS — Brad Tapper, new head coach of the Adirondack Thunder, said his strategy on the ice will focus on scoring, winning and teamwork.
“The individual stuff? — Go play tennis,” he said, speaking at a news conference Aug. 8 in Heritage Hall at Cool Insuring Arena, home ice of the Thunder.
Tapper said he believes in an aggressive style of hockey.
“Two things in life that are very important — attitude and effort. You can control both of them. That is what I am going to tell my players,” he said.
Tapper said, off the ice, he will be an ambassador for hockey in the community, and make sure his players do the same.
“If you see me out, come over and say, ‘Hello.’ I’m very approachable,” he said.
Adirondack Hockey, new owners of the Thunder, on Aug. 8 announced the hiring of Tapper as head coach and director of hockey operations for the 2017-18 season.
The team also announced that Alex Loh, formerly assistant coach, has been signed to a new two-year contract in an expanded role of associate coach, and announced a new affiliation agreement with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League.
Tapper’s contract is for one season, but Edward Moore, an Adirondack Hockey board member and the team’s representative on the ECHL Board of Governors, said he expects Tapper will be in Glens Falls for multiple seasons.
Scott Clemensen, goaltender development coach with the Devils, said the affiliation fits geographically with the Devils organization’s NHL team in New Jersey and American Hockey League team in Binghamton.
“It creates a nice little triangle of Adirondack, Binghamton and New Jersey,” he said.
Moore said he and other representatives of the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition board, which operates the arena, began talks with New Jersey in September 2016, when the Calgary Flames, which previously owned and operated the Thunder, indicated they likely would be leaving Glens Falls.
“It took us 11 months, and we finally have an affiliate,” he said.
Under the one-season affiliation agreement, the Devils will place players at Glens Falls to develop their skills and potentially advance to the AHL and NHL.
There is no set number of players that will be placed at Glens Falls at any one time.
Clemensen said the affiliation will build on an informal arrangement the Devils and the Thunder have had the past two seasons.
“I fully expect the quality of that relationship to continue. It was very good,” he said.
Moore said the Thunder also have a new informal arrangement with the Tampa Bay Lightning, which has its AHL affiliate in Syracuse, to place players with the Thunder.
“It’s not an affiliation. It’s just a friendship,” he said.
Tapper has six seasons of professional hockey coaching experience, three as an assistant coach in the American Hockey League and three as an assistant coach in the ECHL, the league the Thunder play in.
Most recently, Tapper was assistant coach of the Rochester Americans of the AHL for the 2016-17 season.
Tapper, 39, played nine seasons of professional hockey, including 71 games over portions of three seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League.
He played three seasons of college hockey with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.
Moore said a three-person committee of himself; Claude Loiselle, an off-ice executive with the New York Islanders; and Greg Joly, a former Detroit Red Wings player, conducted the search for a new head coach.
Tapper said he is excited to become a head coach.
“I’m very proud to be one of 90 head coaches in professional hockey,” he said.
He said he both played and coached at Cool arena “years ago,” when the building was known as the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Tapper is married and has three children, ages 8, 9 and 10.
Also at the news conference, Jeff Mead, general manager of Adirondack Hockey and the arena, introduced Lukas Favale, the Thunder’s new broadcaster for the 2017-18 season.
Favale was broadcaster last season for the Elmira Jackals.
Adirondack Hockey bought the Thunder earlier this year from the Flames, which owned and operated the local hockey franchise during the past three seasons, playing the past two seasons in the ECHL and the 2014-15 season in the AHL.
The AHL is the top level in minor league hockey, and the ECHL is one level below the AHL.
Adirondack Hockey is a limited liability corporation affiliated with Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, a nonprofit group that operates the city of Glens Falls-owned Cool arena, under a lease with an option to buy the building.