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Valley Maple Leafs shaking up bench, welcome 'new' head coach

Head coach Josh Dill, left, and assistant coach Brett Fletcher were always there to give the Leafs some encouragement from the bench during the playoffs in 2017.
Head coach Josh Dill, left, and assistant coach Brett Fletcher were always there to give the Leafs some encouragement from the bench during the playoffs in 2017.

WINDSOR, N.S. — The Valley Maple Leafs are bidding farewell to their head coach as he transitions into a managerial role while welcoming a familiar face on the bench into the top spot.

The Leafs organization officially announced around suppertime on June 23 that Josh Dill would be hanging up his head coaching duties and taking on a general manager role.

Long-time assistant coach, Brett Fletcher, is taking over as head coach.

Both men, who are friends, are looking forward to the new chapter of the Leafs' history.

“I'll still be at the games, still be fully involved, but I'm not going to be on the bench,” said Dill, who was the head coach the last year the Windsor Royals operated and was part of the group responsible for keeping Junior B hockey in town with the launch of the Valley Maple Leafs.

Josh Dill is stepping away from being the Leafs' head coach and will work alongside David Hunter in the role of general manager for the 2017-18 season.

As head coach, Dill’s record speaks volumes. He received the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League’s coach of the year award, his team made the playoffs six years straight, with two first place finishes. The Leafs won two divisional championships, made it to the NSJHL final twice and winning it once. They also won the Don Johnson Cup — the most coveted prize in Maritime Junior B hockey — once.

Fletcher has been with the team for the majority of those milestones, as has fellow assistant coach Rob Lindsay.

“When I stepped down, I talked to Brett first to make sure he was willing, wanting, happy — all of the above — to take over the role of head coach. He seems very excited to do so,” said Dill.

“Brett loves it. He's totally committed to being there.”

For Fletcher, it's going to be business as usual.

“Honestly, in my own head, I don't think anything is really going to change,” he said.

“Titles is not something I'm concerned about,” Fletcher continued, noting that he has always worked “hand-in-hand” with Dill as they try to achieve their goals for the hockey club.

Brett Fletcher is taking over the head coaching duties for the Valley Maple Leafs for the 2017-18 season.

“We need to build the foundation with hockey players and Josh taking over the role as GM will certainly help that off the ice and put some good players on the ice for us,” said Fletcher. “And I'll try to do what I have been doing on the bench and with the players to steer us in the right direction to try to get another championship.”

With the Don Johnson Cup in Sydney, Nova Scotia this year, Fletcher said they are already discussing how to make the team successful.

“We definitely want to make a run at that and put a good club on the ice and see what we can do and maybe go all the way,” Fletcher said.

Current general manager David Hunter said he welcomes the change up and says Fletcher is the perfect person to lead the Leafs this season.

“Brett did a great job filling in for Josh when Josh was away and things like that and he certainly has the confidence of the entire Valley Maple Leafs organization,” said Hunter.

“He's ready for this promotion,” he said.

Hunter says it's important for the volunteer organization to have young, fresh blood taking on the important roles and welcomes the opportunity to work closely with Dill. Hunter is still going to be involved with the Leafs as Dill and Hunter will share GM duties.

Fletcher said the Leafs will be holding tryouts near the beginning of September and hopes to see some familiar faces as well as meet some new prospects.

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