At approximately 6:35 a.m., I walked into XFINITY Arena prepared to embrace the launch of the Everett Silvertips / Dennis Williams era. Dan Todoroff, the organization’s big wheel in charge of day-to-day operations, just sat down at his desk as we eventually tag teamed a helping hand for King 5’s unfolding of the Tips 17-18 story (guest starring Mitch Love, and Lincoln).
Ask me how it was like after that? A blur. Coffee (a ton of it, too), station-to-station duties, testing of a radio line to make sure Fox Sports 1380 had no “gremlins” interfering with live coverage, and a cordial hello to Jesse Geleynse, Nick Patterson, Jose Moreno, Q13 Fox, loyal Tips ticket buyers, etc …
Flash forward to 2:35pm: news conference over. The whirlwind slowed down to 3rd gear.
Flash forward to 4:35pm: the Dennis Williams / Mike Benton / Fish “official exclusive first conversation” was over. The whirlwind officially came to a state of calm.
After going home to play Dad and enjoy dinner with family, you bet there was a 15-minute nap involved.
In between, I had my first words with Dennis Williams, aka “Willie” (still need a refresher? click here and here). As the 5th “full time” head coach in Tips history, he enters with a win percentage a shade below .700 in the last seven seasons, an NAHL championship, and the torch taker which includes a burning flame of five U.S. Division titles.
The first five questions, in what will be a part of many conversations between us:
- MIKE BENTON: What defines your core values?
DENNIS WILLIAMS: When you’re trying to build a championship hockey club, you have to put emphasis on character of each player. Knowing the players coming back from this past season, and what Garry Davidson and his staff has done, it’s set the table for a successful season.
- MB: What excites you about taking a job like this?
DW: It’s been a job, when I joined CSH seven years ago, (that’s categorized as) a dream job. Now to have the opportunity to come to Everett, bring family, and be a part of the Pacific Northwest – knowing it’s absolutely gorgeous – my kids are excited. I’m excited to get going and give the fans a great product to cheer for.
- MB: Is it fair to start defining goals yet for this season?
DW: I think right now i’m just trying to grasp everything and get a handle on all the faces and names I’ve met over the last few days. First thing’s first, I want to reach out to all the returning players and draft picks. From there, we’ll get planning going for the summer.
- MB: What’s it mean to coach the Silvertips and coach in the WHL?
DW: It’s a great honor. I said this year is a gem and it’s a jewel program to coach. And to be the coach here, it doesn’t come lightly. It comes with high expectations and i’m looking forward to coming in and helping do our best to win not only championships, but get this club to the Memorial Cup and eventually hoist it.
- MB: Playing style – what do you like, what do you prefer, what do you see out of this team moving ahead?
DW: Like anything in this day, it’s an evolution and (signaling) a change in hockey. We want to focus on playing the game with speed, playing with intensity, and generating as much offense as possible. It’s getting harder and harder.
But our focus is working on the skill sets of our players, helping them continue to get better, and bring the intensity. That has to come from us as a coaching staff. We have to set the bar each day. I’m looking forward to it. I have to wait 90 days until these guys get here again. Every day will be like the 24th of December – I’ll have to keep waiting and waiting. Then we can get on the ice here.
Williams is still technically transitioning from Bloomington, where his family is still packing up an old house and his daughters are completing their year of school. Look out for more on Monday’s big day in The Everett Herald, Q13 Fox, KOMO, King5, and The Barbershop Show (KJR).
“The 25th of December” is one day closer.
Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game. Tweet at him here.