July 04, 2014 - 4:35 PM
KELOWNA - The Kelowna Rockets have a new assistant coach and he's a member of the alumni.
The club announced former Rockets player Kris Mallette, 35, will assume the position. He's in his fifth year of coaching and comes to Kelowna from a position as associate head coach for the Vernon Vipers.
Mallette is a resident of Kelowna and played 152 games for the Rockets as a stay-at-home defencemen over more than two seasons from 1996-99. When he left the Rockets he pursued a professional career playing for eight teams and racking up more than 300 penalty minutes three different times. He played over 500 games. Mallette retired following an injury in the 2008-09 season.
"This is full circle for me," Mallette said in a press release,"I got my start back in the old Memorial Arena. Once I got into coaching my ultimate goal was always to coach with the Rockets. I'm fortunate with the success Ryan (Huska) had, he was able to move on. It's fantastic getting back to a team that has done so much for me."
Mallette said he wasn't the most skilled player and as a result turned his attention to understanding the details of the game to improve himself.
"As my career progressed I spent more and more time picking the brains of the coaches I had," he said.
Mallette returned to Kelowna following his playing career and joined former NHL player Brent Gilchrist with the Kelowna Minor Hockey midget tier 1 team and they won the provincial title. After that he moved on to North Okanagan (KIJHL) starting as an assistant coach. He then became head coach and was named division coach of the year and KIJHL Coach of the Year in consecutive years.
Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton said Mallette is ready for the challenge after paying his dues, first as a player and then as a coach.
"Kris has worked at every level to get himself to where he is," said Hamilton. "He came to us years ago and asked about coaching and I said he had to go and learn. He's done that. He's worked at every level. He's from a bit of a different era in our organization. It's a lot different than when he played but he understands exactly what we are all about and he understands what the expectations are to play here."
A married father of two, Mallette met his wife Susie in Kelowna when he was a player. He's maintained a home in Kelowna since his playing days, and the couple are raising two daughters in the city.
"I was able to start my career in Kelowna and I've lived here ever since," he said. "It might sound corny but it's a dream come true, for me and my family too."
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