The Houston Aeros will begin the 2011-2012 season as the defending Western Conference champs, but they'll be doing it with three new faces behind the bench.
Last year's head man, Mike Yeo, and assistant Darryl Sydor are Minnesota bound. Brian Wiseman, Houston's other assistant, has joined the staff of the University of Michigan, his alma mater.
Last month, John Torchetti was tabbed as the new bench boss in Houston just prior to Wild prospects taking the Xcel Energy Center ice for Development camp. Torchetti now has his assistants in place.
Aeros General Manager Jim Mill has named Sebastien Laplante (luh-PLONT) and Mike Van Ryn (van-RIGHN) as assistant coaches.
“Both Sebastien and Mike have a passion for the game that will go a long way in continuing our tradition of winning and developing players,” Mill said.
Torchetti has a history with both having coached both Laplante (Greensboro, San Antonio and Fort Wayne) and Van Ryn (San Antonio and Florida) over their playing careers. Laplante also served as an assistant coach under Torchetti in Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Laplante, 38 (4/23/71), spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Northeastern University. Prior to that, he served two seasons as an assistant coach with the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL).
As a player, Laplante posted 140 points (61-79-140) in 134 games at Northeastern from 1989 to 1993. The left-winger then embarked on a pro career that began with the Greensboro Monarchs (ECHL) in the 1993-94 season. As a rookie, he posted 35-38-73 totals in 60 games and led the league with a plus-44 rating. He also made stops with the Cornwall Aces (AHL), Amiens Somme HC (France), San Antonio Iguanas (CHL), Quad City Mallards (Colonial/UHL) and Fort Wayne Komets (IHL). In 175 professional games, Laplante averaged better than a point-per-game average (77-115-192).
A native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, Laplante and wife Shannon have two daughters (Justine and Aryanne) and a son (Nolan).
Van Ryn, 32 (3/14/79), joins the Aeros after serving as an assistant coach for the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League last season. He worked with the defense and penalty kill, helping the IceDogs to their most successful season in team history, finishing with a 45-17-2-4 record. His work molding young defensemen helped Dougie Hamilton become the 9th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
A defenseman, the London, Ontario, native played in 353 NHL contests with the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs. He also appeared in 105 AHL games with the Worcester IceCats and San Antonio Rampage. All totaled, Van Ryn competed in 458 pro games from 2000 to 2009 and posted 164 points (37-127-164) along with 325 penalty minutes (PIM).
Van Ryn was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the first round (26th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He played two seasons at the University of Michigan and another with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League prior to his pro career.
Van Ryn and his wife Amber have two children, Kaylee and Tucker.