NORTH BAY, Ont. – John Dean has joined the North Bay Battalion as an assistant coach, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Monday.
Dean, a Toronto native who turns 34 on Sept. 27, will work on a staff led by Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach, and featuring fellow assistants Ryan Oulahen and Steve Chabbert and goaltending coach Rob Beatty.
A onetime member of the OHL’s North Bay Centennials, Dean replaces John Goodwin, who left the Battalion after one season to become an assistant with the Kingston Frontenacs.
Dean has spent six seasons as a coach in the North York Rangers organization, including the last three as head coach of the club’s junior A team. He said his relationship with Chabbert, a longtime teammate with the Centennials, led to him pursuing an opportunity with the Battalion.
“I have some good roots in North Bay,” Dean said recently via telephone. “Steve suggested I put my name in, and I jumped at the opportunity. Jobs in the OHL are few and far between. Steve was in my corner and, after playing in the OHL and in North Bay and spending a number of years with North York, I thought this might be the perfect storm. So I took my shot at it.”
Left winger Dean played three-plus seasons with the Centennials starting in 1997-98. He scored 20 goals and added 29 assists for 49 points in 179 games before completing his OHL career in 2000-01 with the Mississauga IceDogs, registering three points, including one goal, in seven games. Dean moved on to the junior A Thornhill Rattlers that season, helping them win a Provincial League title and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup tournament at Flin Flon, Man.
Dean, who began a professional playing career in 2001-02, skated three seasons in the Central Hockey League with the Amarillo Rattlers, later the Gorillas, producing 44 goals and 49 assists for 93 points in 191 games.
After retiring from pro hockey in 2004, he earned a degree in marketing from Toronto’s York University.
“I decided to come home and get an education because that was important to me and my family. I got introduced to coaching at York and fell in love with it. I remembered all the coaches who had helped me out, so I wanted to give back. I got involved with one of the Double-A teams from the Willowdale Blackhawks, and next thing I knew I was an assistant coach and then a head coach.
“I thought that coaching was something I might want to do with my life and got an assistant coaching job with the North York Rangers minor midgets and took over as head coach of the midget team from there, and eventually I moved on to the junior A team. We had some success there too. It was exciting to help rebuild that program.”
Dean said he looks forward to working with the Battalion.
“Stan’s reputation speaks for itself, and I’ve got to know Ryan a little bit and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. I want to help to continue to deliver the message that Stan and Ryan are bringing. I hope to add some flair to the special teams. I love breaking down video and dissecting the game. Coaching and developing players is always evolving, and if you don’t keep up you’ll get lost. I’m confident in my abilities as a coach and my ability to handle players who play at a high level.
“Those of us in junior A looked at the OHL as a mini National Hockey League. I’m excited to work with talented players, and they make it fun because you can talk about little nuances in a game that these guys might pick up faster. The talent level across the league is exceptional.”
Dean joins a Battalion club that captured the Eastern Conference title in its first season in the Gateway City.
“It’s so cool to see hockey back in North Bay. When I got to North Bay there was a lot of talk about how great the city was. This was the Bert Templeton era, and you could see the support was there and it was a lot of fun. But there were some losing seasons, and you could see that support tail off. But I know how much they adore hockey in North Bay, and to see it doing so well was exciting.”