Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

May 12, 2011

North Stars make coaching changes

TRAVERSE CITY — A

“different voice with the

same message” will be on

the Traverse City bench

next season.

Anthony Palumbo announced

that he is stepping

down as head coach

of the North Stars. Assistant

coach Chad Fournier

will take over with former

Detroit Red Wing Dallas

Drake joining the coaching

staff.

A new job as president

of First Community Bank

necessitated the move, said

Palumbo, who will stay

on as the team’s general

manager.

Fournier was a North

Stars assistant coach

under Palumbo the last

four years. Before that,

he coached alongside

Palumbo for two years at

Traverse City West and on

several Grand Traverse

Hockey Association teams.

“Chad and I have coached

together for a long time,”

Palumbo said. “I have great

confidence in Chad.

“People forget that Chad

was a very, very good North

American Hockey League

player. He was an excellent

Division 3 player.

They’re getting a guy that’s

been there and knows the

league.”

Fournier said his coaching

style is close to Palumbo’s,

and that the Stars

will be getting a “different

voice with the same message.”

“I’ve coached with Anthony

for about 10 years now,”

said Fournier, a project

manager at Grand Traverse

Construction. “We’re very

similar in coaching style.

Things aren’t going to

change much. Our personalities are a little different, but not so much that the kids are going to have to do a lot of adjusting.”

After an all-state career at Traverse City Central, Fournier helped Ohio University to three straight ACHA championships, and played in the NAHL for a year with the Lakeland Jets.

“I’m excited to get things started,” Fournier said.

And it won’t take long for that to happen.

The North Stars hold their first tryout camp this weekend at Centre ICE.

“I just get to sit back and watch a bit,” Palumbo joked.

Drake, one of the team’s minority owners, will join incumbents Mike Matteucci and Bob Fernandez as assistants. Bob Spence and Steve Witt, who have served as scouts, will also assume some coaching duties.

“I’ve always been somewhat interested in getting involved more,” Drake said. “I’ve been a part owner the last couple years, but I didn’t stick my nose in things too much. With Chad taking over, they asked me if I had any interest, and I did. I’m excited.”

It was just a matter of having enough time. Drake already is director of the Grand Traverse Hockey Association and coaches three youth teams — two Bantam squads and one Pee Wee.

“Most of these kids are looking to move on to the next level,” Drake said. “I can point them in the right direction, as far as what it takes to get there.”

In addition to competing for a Robertson Cup championship, Drake said doing whatever is needed to keep the team here after the 2011-12 season is one of his goals.

Majority owner Raj Wiener considered relocating the team because of declining attendance, but then decided to keep the team in Traverse City for at least one more season.

“We really want to make sure the team stays,” Drake said. “Next year is a big year for us, as far as what happens after next year. Hopefully, I can get involved any way I can and we can get some butts in the seats. But by no means am I doing it just for that reason.”

Drake played in the NHL from 1992-2008, concluding his playing career on a Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings team in 2008. He played in over 1,000 NHL games in his career after a standout career at Northern Michigan University.

“Adding Dallas is going to make things better for our program,” Fournier said. “The knowledge, the face, the experience. He’s been where all these kids dream of going.”

Palumbo had a .624 winning percentage (141-85-25) in his four years behind the bench, leading the Stars to the franchise-record 40 victories last season.

While his new job wouldn’t allow him enough time to coach the team, he can remain involved in the franchise’s progress in his role as general manager.

“It’s definitely a role where I’ve got take a more active role in the community,” Palumbo said. “We’re a new company in Traverse City, and it’s something that needs more time. There’s only so many hours in a day. The reality of the matter was that to be the head coach, general manager and Community Bank president, it just doesn’t work. It’s not fair to a lot of people — my employer, the team, the kids. In the end, we came up with a solution that will enable us to take another step as an organization. Chad is going to do a great job. Mike Matteucci and Bob Fernandez are already there and are excellent assistant coaches. And then you add Dallas and that wealth of knowledge and experience.”

1
Text Only