SCOTT SPEARING says he was fully behind Bracknell Bees’ decision to hire Doug Sheppard as their new head coach.
The announcement was made last Sunday that highly-respected Sheppard would be making the switch from Basingstoke Bison, where he won the treble this season, to the Bees for the 2018/19 campaign.
That means Spearing’s one-year reign as boss comes to an end after a disappointing finish saw Bracknell finish fifth in the league and lose to London Raiders in the play-off quarter-finals.
But he will be staying on as a player-assistant coach, prolonging his Bracknell career which originally began in the youth setup in 2000.
“After the season, potentially bringing Doug in was something myself and directors Stuart (Robinson) and Carol (Miller) spoke about,” Spearing told The Wokingham Paper.
“I was definitely open to the idea because he’s able to bring something doing it full-time which I can’t commit to and he’s got a huge amount of experience.
“Not only will it benefit the team, but it will benefit myself.
“I’m never going to be too proud and say you know what, I want to try and do it on my own. If I think someone can come in and do a better job than I can and if I think it’s going to be better for the club, then I’m always going to put the club first.
“That was my thinking behind the situation bringing Doug in.”
Canadian Sheppard, 41, moved to England to play for Bison in 2004/05 before taking up a player-coach role in 2006. He then moved to Sheffield Steelers a year later as player-assistant, winning the EIHL play-offs.
After spending three more years with Sheffield, winning the league title and play-offs again, Sheppard moved on to Slough Jets in 2011/12, winning the EPIHL play-offs.
A seven-year stay at Basingstoke followed, as he moved to becoming a full-time coach in 2015, winning six trophies in total before turning down a new contract offer earlier this month to move to Bracknell.
And Spearing is looking forward to working with such an established coach.
“He lives just around the corner from me, close to the rink which is great,” he said.
“I feel that Doug’s definitely the right person for the job right now.
“Hopefully I can learn as much as I can from him so one day I can maybe go back into the same position and do a good job because it’s about development for the club and the coaches.
“He’s got a lot of experience and he’s a good guy.
“He’s an ex-team-mate and I’ve played for him before when he was my coach at Basingstoke. He’s very professional which will be great for the club.
“He says it how it is and there’s not really many that can argue with him when you’ve got a track record like Doug’s got.
“He’ll be a great coach for the club without a doubt.”
Bracknell got off to a flying start under Spearing after he took over from Lukas Smital a year ago.
Bees were battling in the top two in November, but a dip around Christmas and into the new year saw them fall away before their eventual play-off disappointment.
But Spearing, 32, says that experience will stand him in good stead.
“I was thrown in at the deep end last year but I don’t regret anything that I did,” he said.
“I was very pleased with the overall performance of the team.
“I know we let ourselves down a little bit at the end of the year, but I put a good team on the ice. Unfortunately it didn’t really meet up to its potential.
“But you can learn a lot from being thrown in at the deep end and I definitely learnt a lot last year.”
A club statement from the Bees said they hoped Sheppard’s appointment could bring silverware back to the club.
So attention now turns to building a team for 2018/19 and Spearing expects Sheppard to call on some players he’s worked with in the past.
“It’s not like Doug has come in and we’ve got a massive budget all of a sudden,” he said.
“We’re still working very closely to what we were originally.
“But what it does allow is when Doug comes in, he’s a got a lot of players that want to play for him and not necessarily a (certain) club because they appreciate what he’s done for them and they like the way he is.
“You get all those opportunities of ex-players that would’ve just said no. Now they’re starting to consider potentially moving from other teams.
“Hopefully between us we can put a great team together with the help of the management as well.
“I really do think it’s going to be a good season next year.
“A proper rebuild to get the club back being first or second spot and not really looking back.”