By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
There is an old Christian hymn entitled ” There’s Something About A Name” that in some ways can be tied to the Oshawa Generals recent search for a new head coach.
Greg Walters was officially introduced as the man taking over behind the bench for the OHL franchise in the 2018-19 season.
Team general manager Roger Hunt says during their extensive search over the past month, Walters’ “name kept coming back as the right guy.”
“He was always at the top of the list,” Hunt stated. “We are extremely confident in our choice.”
Walters replaces Bob Jones, who officially coached the Gens from 2015-16 to 2017-18, although health issues kept him away from his duties for all of last season.
Assistant coaches Greg Nemisz and Nathan McIver, and at times Hunt himself, stood in for Jones during his absence.
Speaking to media at the Tribute Communities Centre, Walters thanked Hunt and team owner Rocco Tullio for the opportunity.
“It’s just a really exciting day. I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity,” Walters stated.
Walters is an OHL alumnus, having played with the Ottawa 67’s between 1987 and 1990.
He joked that he hopes to receive a more favourable reaction from Gens Nation than in the past.
“They hated me [when he was a player],” he said with a laugh.
Walters was selected 80th overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft and went on to play 12 years of North American professional hockey.
His career included stints in the American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League and the defunct International Hockey League.
After retiring in 2002, Walters would serve as an assistant and associate coach for the Sarnia Sting for eight years.
From there, he became the head coach of the Georgetown Raiders of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, leading them to a league title in 2017 and returning to the finals this season.
In 423 games during his tenure with the Raiders, the team posted 292 victories.
Walters told reporters while he’s had other opportunities to head coach in the OHL, the Generals offer struck a cord for him as he was hoping to move to Toronto area where his family resides.
Asked whether he felt pressure replacing Jones, Walters says it wasn’t an issue for him.
“It was a tough situation with Jonesy being sick [last year],” he said. “But I believe in myself.”
He credited McIver and Nemisz, and the players for stepping up at a challenging time.
As for this season, Walters was frank in his expectations.
“There will be a change in how we do things,” he says.
He later explained further than he will be building a team with defence as its first focus.
“Our best players will be our best defensive players,” he says.
He praised current Generals corps, especially expressing his excitement to assist in the development of young players such as new signees Ty Tullio and Dylan Robinson.
Calling himself a “passionate coach”, Walters acknowledged he can be “very loud and demanding.”
Hunt told The Oshawa Express this is exactly what he needs to be.
“He’s going to be hard on the players,” he said. “Being a coach is not about being a friend.”
With that said, Hunt described Walters as a “players coach” and he’ll have “20 guys getting off the bus wanting to play for him in every game.”