|After eight years as an assistant coach, Jason Nobili was named the new coach of the ECHL's Reading Royals.
After eight years as an assistant coach, Jason Nobili is finally getting his opportunity.
The 34-year-old landed a tremendous opportunity last week when he was named the fifth coach in Reading Royals history. Nobili spent the past four seasons as assistant coach of the Florida Everblades, who never won fewer than 39 games while Nobili was on board.
Nobili was a candidate to become the new coach in Florida two months ago when Gerry Fleming left the club to become an assistant coach with the Springfield Falcons in the American Hockey League. However, that job went to Malcolm Cameron, who guided the Texas Wildcatters to a 115-point season in 2007-08.
While Nobili probably feared at the time that he’d have to wait at least another season to find a head-coaching job, a vacancy with the Royals opened when Karl Taylor left to become the first coach of the Ontario Reign. Nobili interviewed for the position and obviously convinced Reading General Manager Gordon Kaye that he was the man for the job.
“I guess I’m relieved,” Nobili told NHL.com. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be in Florida over the last four years. It’s something that I think has given me the base to prepare myself for this opportunity. Working closely with Gerry Fleming and doing the everyday regimen of coaching in the ECHL I think has certainly helped me in my career.”
Some in the Fort Myers probably saw Nobili as the perfect replacement for Fleming, given his previous experience and knowledge of the club. But Nobili insisted he doesn’t have any bad feelings for the Everblades despite being passed up in favor of Cameron.
“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed,” Nobili said. “Obviously, things happen for a reason. I was treated very well by the organization. (President and GM) Craig Brush was a great mentor to me as well, along with Gerry. Decisions are made for different reasons. Craig obviously went with Malcolm Cameron. For me to sit back and say I’m disappointed wouldn’t be fair. What they’ve given me allowed me to go. I think it was good for me to go and venture my own path. I’m looking forward to doing that in Reading.”
Clearly, there are similarities between Florida and Reading. Both are terrific markets and host games in terrific buildings. Both have a history of seeing their players move up to the AHL. And both, despite annual success in the regular season, have yet to win that elusive Kelly Cup.
“It’s a good market,” Nobili said of his new home. “The fans are passionate about their team, which is exciting. There’s a lot of parity between the Everblades and Reading. Florida also has a good, strong base. They’re very passionate there. My time spent in Reading last week, I could see the passion and excitement of the fans. It’s a fun atmosphere to be a part of.”
While it’s his first head-coaching job, Nobili has plenty of on-the-job training thanks to his days spent with Fleming, who guided the Everblades to back-to-back appearances in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2005. The pair remains in constant contact, and Nobili is appreciative of Fleming’s willingness to show him the ropes.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Nobili said. “Gerry and I have become pretty good friends – even away from the rink – and I think that’s transcended into our working relationship at the rink. He’s someone who was very willing to allow me to be involved in all areas of the team. Because of our relationship, it helped me getting that comfort level of working in the ECHL.”
Nobili made his first significant move as coach and director of hockey operations on Thursday, signing captain and hometown boy Matt Herneisen for the 2008-09 season. Herneisen was limited to just 29 games last season due to injury, but his presence will certainly bring much delight to the 6,000 fans who pack the Sovereign Center on a regular basis.
As the recruiting process continues, Nobili said he will be relying heavily on Reading’s past success to lure players in his direction.
You always want to use what the organization has created and built. They’ve done a good job in Reading to be a very competitive team. - Jason Nobili“You always want to use what the organization has created and built,” Nobili said. “They’ve done a good job in Reading to be a very competitive team. They’ve certainly produced a lot of players to the next level. The call-ups are also a positive, because it’s a place where a lot of young players feel that the opportunity to get to the next level serves them well. In the Northeast, you’re closer to the American League teams. You want to use that to entice players to come over.”
While Reading’s close proximity to several AHL teams is a bonus at this time of year, the Royals are usually hit harder by the transaction wire than any other ECHL team during the season. Nobili is aware of that, but also understands that he’s working in a developmental league. At the end of the day, the goal is to move players to the next level.
“The one thing you hear about Reading is it’s a place with a lot of movement with respect to being so close a lot of American League teams,” Nobili said. “I’ve had some experience with that in Florida with our two affiliations in Carolina and the (Florida) Panthers.
“Hopefully, that experience will allow me to deal with the movement that is certainly frequent with the Reading Royals. I think that’s something that I’ll certainly keep a close eye on. I’m open to the fact that it happens a lot in Reading. You just try to prepare for it and deal with it the best you can.”
Marks Lands In Augusta -- John Marks is no longer without a job.
The ECHL’s all-time winningest coach was named Thursday as the new coach of the Augusta Lynx. Marks replaces Bob Ferguson, who is the new assistant general manager of the Iowa Chops, who will be the new AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks.
Marks arrives in Augusta boasting an all-time record of 485-412-63-32 and has won ECHL titles in Charlotte and Greenville. He was left without a job when the Pensacola Ice Pilots abruptly pulled the plug on their franchise in late June.
“John Marks is a proven and consistent winner at the ECHL level, and we couldn’t be happier to have him lead our club,” Lynx General Manager Dan Troutman said. “We spoke with several candidates about the vacancy, but Marks’ resume clearly speaks for itself. We feel as if we’ve hired the perfect candidate to help bring the Kelly Cup to Augusta.”
Around the ECHL -- The Fresno Falcons have landed an affiliation with the Chicago Blackhawks and their AHL franchise, the Rockford Ice Hogs. … Veteran forward Ernie Hartlieb has re-signed with Florida. … The Alaska Aces made a splash this week with the signing of Scott Burt. The two-time Kelly Cup winner had 27 goals and 60 points for the Utah Grizzlies in 2007-08. … The Johnstown Chiefs signed rookie forward Jereme Tendler. … Ryan Smyth has re-signed with the Dayton Bombers after scoring 14 goals with the club last season. … The Stockton Thunder signed defenseman Neil Petruic, who spent last season with HC Bolzano in the Italian League. He spent the entire 2006-07 campaign with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators.
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