Byron Pool has been in the Quad-Cities for a couple of months and has been on the job “officially” since June 1.
But the real work of turning the Quad-City Express into a winner will begin this weekend when the Junior B Central States Hockey League team holds its first tryout camp at the Quad-City Sports Center.
Pool, 30, has been named to replace Scott Smith as head coach and director of player development of the Express. He has spent the last two years as the senior director of development for the Northern Edge Elite Hockey School, which holds camps in almost ever major city in Iowa.
That’s how he got to know Express general manager Chris Otto and team president Ed Maciejewski.
“I was sort of in the interview process with them even before Easter,” he said. “They didn’t have anyone in place so I sort of did a little bit of recruiting on a part-time basis until they made it official.”
Pool originally is from Unity, Saskatchewan, which he said has a population of about 2,500 “if you count everyone’s dogs and cats.”
He played four years of college hockey at Colgate University and four years in the pro ranks, the first two months in the Western Professional Hockey League with the Monroe (La.) Moccasins, where his coach was current Quad-City Mallards coach Brian Curran and one of his teammates was Mallards defenseman Jami Yoder. He also played for pro teams in Indianapolis and Corpus Christi, Texas.
According to the team’s news release, he “will have complete responsibility for all facets of the players’ experience.’’
Smith stepped down after last season to devote more time to his job as vice president of sales for a local auto dealership.
“He stepped in to help us out the last two years, but he has found himself tied up in the work world,” Otto said. “We wanted to have someone who is a full-time hockey person.”
Smith will continue to help the team as an assistant coach along with Perry Jacobs II.
The Expresss tryout camp will get started with a workout at 5 p.m. Friday at the Sports Center. Pool said he has a little more than 40 players lined up right now, but he’s hoping to make it 50 by the weekend.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said. “We’ll have eight of our draft picks from this year’s draft in camp plus five or six returning guys. I haven’t even had a chance to see the returning guys play.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to put together our team from this camp, but it will give me a good idea of where our strengths and weaknesses are, and give me an idea of where we need to do more recruiting.”