When Sylvain Favreau announced he was joining the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Grads Owner and General Manager Steve Barban quickly began the search for a new coach, a search that ended with Tony Iob.
Iob, introduced as the new Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations on August 1st, brings 18 years of experience as a professional hockey player and progressive coaching success since his on-ice retirement.
“I’m very pleased and excited to welcome Tony and his family to Grads Country,” announced Owner and GM Barban on Monday when the move was made public. “Tony is a natural leader and possesses all of the qualities of an excellent coach. The Grads are fortunate that he was available.”
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and am very excited to be here,” said the new coach upon arrival. “My dream is likely the same as my players, to be coaching/playing at the highest level I am able to. Anyone who knows me, knows I am competitive, I strive for the best, and expect the same in return. I’m excited to be a part of the Grads because they have an up-and-coming team here. A lot of these players have the desire to play even higher, I’m hoping I can bring them to the next level.”
Growing up in Renfrew, he played locally before making the jump to the Ontario Hockey League with Kingston then Sault Ste Marie where he twice played in the Memorial Cup. After being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 1991, he was a point-a-game player in the American Hockey League before jumping to Europe for another 17 years.
“I’ve known of Tony Iob since his playing days back in the Soo in the early 90’s and have tracked his long career in Europe,” recalled Barban. “What caught my attention about him as a player was that he would do whatever was necessary to help his team win – be it to score, play physical, or kill penalties – it didn’t matter the role he was asked to play. And win a lot they did, with him regularly leading the way. As good as Tony was during the regular season, he was MVP lights out in the playoffs. The kind of player you could fall in behind of, and have him lead you the rest of the way.”
“I hope to grow with the team and bring to it what I had with the Arnprior Packers,” said Iob of the team he coached last year bringing them to a 33-12-3 record. We became a family, there was a synergy where everyone wanted to do their best for the team including the management, staff, and players. I hope to create that same enthusiasm here and so far we’re off to a great start.”
The Grads new coach played for Team Italy at six different World Championships and suited up for the host country during the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, scoring twice. After hanging up his skates, Iob immediately transitioned into coaching, leading the Renfrew Timberwolves to a pair of Eastern Ottawa Valley Titles in 2011 and 2013.
“Coaching has changed, even since I’ve been back from Europe just eight years ago: coaching has now become a partnership now with your players,” according to Iob. “An ability to get along with and relate to every guy in the room, is invaluable. You need to understand that each player and personality is different, and you can’t treat everyone the same or you won’t be getting the most out of them. Other than having 18 years playing experience myself, taking the time to get to know my players I believe is the biggest asset I can bring to the table. When I played, coaches didn’t talk to their players, where now communication is a must. The players have questions and want answers, but still need to understand that there is a level of respect that is required. I believe in guiding the players and explaining why I’m doing what I’m doing and show them what I’m looking for on the ice and why. Give them the power and ability to be accountable for themselves while on the ice. There is nothing more rewarding than being a coach that players want to play for.”
Over the past few seasons, Iob’s worked with the uOttawa GeeGees, the Pembroke Lumber Kings, Kanata Lasers and got the Packers into the quarterfinals of the Central Canada Hockey League 2’s playoffs before falling to the Richmond Royals.
“Success is a learned habit which takes much discipline, sacrifice and motivation,” is how Iob defines his coaching philosophy. “Being a positive role model as a coach, is critical for the development of players and team.”
“There is still a lot of work ahead of us this summer. We’ve got to build our whole package out that we want to roll out on Day 1 at training camp. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and excited to immerse myself in the community. I look forward to meeting all the fans and introduce myself to the people that support the Grads. From the outside looking in, this is a great place to be, I anticipate that it will be a lot of fun.”
“Best of all, as good an athlete and leader that Tony is, he’s an even better person which is number one in my books,” summarized Barban upon welcoming the new coach to the team.
The Grads Training Camp kicks off on August 15th with the first Regular Season home game taking place on Sunday, September 10th at 2:00 pm versus the Rockland Nationals.
Season ticket packages and sponsorship opportunities are available.