Adam Foote, who played in the NHL for 19 years, including on two Stanley Cup winning teams in Colorado, is the new Kelowna Rockets head coach. —Image: 25stanley

Kelowna Rockets hire former NHL defenceman as new head coach

Adam Foote named new head coach following the firing of Jason Smith earlier in week

Update Oct. 23 9:26 a.m.

The Kelowna Rockets hired former NHL defenceman Adam Foote as the team’s new head coach.

“It’s exciting,” said Foote, at Prospera Place Tuesday morning. “It’s going to be a challenge.”

He promised accountability among the players and said they will know what to expect with him as the head coach.

One of the areas he said needs to change is discipline on the ice. The team has taken way too many penalties, he said.

“We can’t beat ourselves,” said Foote, who was a rugged defenceman during his years in the NHL and amassed more than 300 minutes in penalties

As for the type of team he wants to see, Foote said he wants a fast team that smothers opponents and stalls them in the neutral zone.

But, he added, getting to that point will take some time. And he intends to make his points known to the team.

“I’ll coach loud. I’m going to instruct loud,” said Foote.

Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton said Foote, who lives in the city and whose son Nolan plays on the team, was his only call when he went looking for a new head coach.

He said he only agreed to take the job knowing his son was comfortable with it.

Foote’s contract is for two years.

The hiring came just a day after former head coach Jason Smith was fired by the team.The Rockets are off to 4-10 start on the season.

Foote, a former captain of the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets, played in 1,158 NHL games and was most recently a defensive assistant coach with the Avalanche from 2011 to last season.

Hamilton said he’s looking to Foote to take over a team he described as “in transition.”

“Because we host the 2020 Memorial Cup, we know a number of personnel moves will have to be made. We are confident Adam will be able to help us move forward, not just this year but next season also.”

Foote, 47, is a former OHL player, having played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He was drafted 22nd overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989. He had 308 points (66 goals and 242 assists) and 308 penalty minutes during his 19-year NHL career.

He also won two Stanley Cups with Colorado in 1996 and 2001 and gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

“I’m excited,” said Foote. “Kelowna is a great organization and there are exciting times ahead. I’m lucky to have played on a lot of good teams with great players throughout my career. I’ve gathered a lot of information over the years and plan to apply it to the development of Rockets players.”

Foote has two sons who also play hockey, Nolan, an assistant captain on the Rockets and Cal, a former Rocket who was a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning and is currently playing for the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

Foote will join assistant coaches Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard behind the bench tonight, when the Rockets take on the defending WHL champion Swift Current Broncos at Prospera Place.

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