After 12 seasons of success – on and off the ice – it was going to take a special job to make Darcy Haugan consider leaving his hometown.
The Humboldt Broncos were able to offer the 39-year-old Peace River, Alta. man what he considers to be just that kind of opportunity. Last week the club announced it had tabbed Haugan as its head coach and general manager. For a dozen years, Haugan had held the same duties with the North Peace Navigators of the Junior “B” North West Junior Hockey League. His squad won the league championships five times – including the past two seasons.
When asked what excited him about the Humboldt post, Haugan cited the team’s history, its reputation, and the people involved with the organization.
“It is a great honour,” Haugan said. “I am pretty humbled to be the next coach of the Humboldt Broncos.”
He plans to be in town this week to get started for the upcoming Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season. The Broncos open their fall camp on Labour Day weekend. Fans will have a chance to meet the new Broncos bench boss at Streetfest in the afternoon of Aug. 22 where players will be playing street hockey with youngsters. The organization will also be selling season tickets and clothing.
The Humboldt Broncos organization is pleased to be able to bring Haugan in. The team received more than 30 applications for the position and interviewed five candidates.
“We are very excited to get someone like Darcy,” Broncos President Jamie Brockman wrote in an email interview. “He seems to us to be a great person all around and he and his family are going to be a great fit in our community. I am excited for the season to start.”
Haugan takes over for Ryan Smith, who led the team to a 24-25-5-2 record and an eighth place finish in the last regular season. The Broncos lost to the Weyburn Red Wings in the wildcard playoffs. Smith departed after one season for an associate coach job with the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos. He had joined the Humboldt Broncos after Dean Brockman took an assistant coaching job with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades after more than 16 years with the team. Haugan had applied when Dean Brockman left.
“Darcy interviewed extremely well,” Jamie Brockman wrote. “He was shortlisted last year and we liked him then. His desire to want to have himself improve, his players improve and the organization improve daily really resonated with us.”
Along with his hockey experience, on and off the ice, Haugan being able to relocate his family was a big plus for such a community-orientated team.
“All in all, we felt that Darcy has the right character to guide our organization.” Brockman said.
In a phone interview on Aug. 16, Haugan was looking forward to getting into town and meeting with the players and assistant coach Brayden Klimosko, who he described as a big asset.
“I think the biggest thing from the get go with these players is to build relationships to where they trust me.”
When asked about the style he prefers to play, Haugan said, “I really want us to control the tempo – whether that is speeding it up or slowing it down. I like us to be in control. I like to see everyone involved.”
He stated he feels a team needs to be versatile. Each game can be different in itself. Haugan said he’s a staunch believer in special teams and plans on spending time on aspects such as the penalty kill and power play.
The new Broncos head coach also has strong feelings that the team should be involved in the community and feature character players. He feels that being a good person off the ice is important and correlates with being a good hockey player.
While he was born and raised in Peace River, Haugan certainly is not a stranger to Saskatchewan. His wife, Christina, is originally from Rosetown. The couple has two sons, Connor and Jackson. In addition, Haugan played in the SJHL for the Estevan Bruins. He later was an assistant coach for that team for three years before heading home to Peace River.
With the Navigators, Haugan compiled a record of 326 wins, 83 losses and 15 OT losses. He won the NWJHL’s Coach of the Year award three consecutive seasons: 2011, 2012, and 2013. Haugan has received a Hockey Alberta Meritorious Award for his contributions to the sport in that province. Haugan said it was not easy to decide to leave Peace River, but he is looking forward to the challenge of leading the Broncos.
A former defenceman, Haugan’s playing career included time with Northern Michigan University, Briercrest College, and in Sweden.