Quenneville is handy replacement for Cirone as Jets coach
It’s not often that a Junior hockey team can replace an outgoing coach with one of similar qualifications and on short notice.
But that’s what the Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League were able to do earlier this month.
The sudden turn of events began when fourth-year head coach Jason Cirone informed owner-general manager Butch Wolfe that he was resigning his position with the NA3HL Jets to head up a new hockey program at Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska that will take to the ice in 2014-2015.
Cirone didn’t leave Wolfe and the Jets without a qualified replacement.
Ready to step in and take over bench duties with the Jets immediately was Justin Quenneville, who spent the past two seasons as head coach of the Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League.
Quenneville had stepped aside as Corpus Christi’s head coach during the off-season to move to Michigan to be with his wife, who works in the Metro Detroit area.
Thus, when the 42-year old Cirone informed the Jets of his imminent departure to Nebraska, in stepped the 31-year old Quenneville.
Interestingly, Cirone (Toronto) and Quenneville (Montreal) both grew up playing the game in Canada.
Quenneville, to be sure, is thrilled to be back behind the bench.
“When I moved to Michigan from Texas I was hoping to be able to land a coaching job at some point and this is a good fit,” Quenneville said of his hire by the Jets.
“The NA3HL has a reputation as a good development league,” he added.
Coaching the Waterford-based Jets, with their morning practice routine and realistic travel schedule, also allows Quenneville to focus on a new hockey-related business that he is opening with close friend Jamie Lovell, who is an assistant coach with the Port Huron Fighting Falcons of the NAHL.
“It’s a good situation all around,” Quenneville said of coaching the Jets and being involved with Lovell in the soon-to-be opened Michigan Athletic Training facility in nearby Fraser, Michigan.
Meanwhile, owner-GM Wolfe saluted Cirone for his work with the Jets while welcoming Quenneville to the Metro program.
“While we are certainly sad to see Jason go, because I feel he helped turn this organization around from where it was when he came in, we are thrilled for the opportunity he has earned for himself in Nebraska,” Wolfe said. “Justin and Jason share many coaching similarities and Justin came highly recommended from Jason.”
Quenneville paid tribute to the Jets as an organization.
“This is a league I’m very familiar with and I also know the great reputation the Jets have in this league and in Junior hockey,” Quenneville said. “When I was in Corpus, we recruited heavily in Michigan and always had several Michigan kids on our rosters. I grew up in Canada and it’s great to be back in a hockey market like the one here in Metro Detroit. There is so much hockey here and a strong core of players in this environment.
“As for our team, we look strong, though I’d like to see us get a little stronger on the offensive side of the puck. This is a very blue-collar team and we want to be that team that no one wants to play. I will also do everything I can to help promote these kids and get them to the next level, just like Jason did.”