Jon Kynaston Interview
Earlier this week we spoke with Jon Kynaston, Head Coach of the DALROD sponsored Peterborough Phantoms, to ask him how the recruitment of the 2013-14 team was going. We also took the opportunity to discuss his thoughts on the various comings and goings over the past month or so since the season finished.
Last Season was Kynastons first full season in charge of the Phantoms, so we started by asking how he felt the season had gone, and if the team had performed as expected.
â€œIt is harder to coach your home town team in many waysâ€ said Kynaston, â€œI think you feel the burden more because you are as passionate and keen to succeed as every supporter in the rink so you probably self analyse a lot more.â€
â€œLast season I was really keen to deliver a few improvements and make some small steps to build on. I wanted us to be sounder and more organised defensively as I felt that during the 2011-12 season we were weak in this area and it cost the team at times. Secondly I wanted to ensure we were not on the wrong side of intimidation or physical play, especially in our rink. Thirdly I wanted to play in a way that entertained the majority more – itâ€™s a hard nut to crack but in general I wanted a team that played hard and with heart no matter whatâ€
â€œWe still have some work to go on these but I do feel we stepped on and have a better feel for what and how we want to play.â€
Feedback from the Phantoms fans suggests that they enjoy that style of gritty Hokey, especially in our small rink. How difficult is it to get the team to play that style of hockey ?
â€œIt can be hard to get all of the players to play one way and to be honest you donâ€™t want that. You need a balance in your team, as long as all jobs are covered. You need steak and sizzle, not too much steak or too much sizzle, you need a fair amount of both.â€
â€œWe have a lot of areas to improve on. It would be nice and easy each summer to have a bottomless budget to fix all those gaps but our challenge to is to improve bit by bit each year to be more and more competitive. It makes it hard but it also is a healthy challenge.â€
Looking at the player signings so far, have you consciously taken the decision to sign the British Players ahead of the Imports so far ?
â€œRecruitment of the British guys first has been the plan as I believe that British guys are harder to recruit than Imports. There are less of them and distinctly less of them with certain core skills, therefore my approach is to recruit all the British players so I then know what import skills I need to compliment that. Its easy to find that way around, having said that it is always a financial jigsaw and it is that bit that is the toughest challenge every year.â€
You have brought in some new faces early on, with Tom Soar and Nicky Watt both in Phantoms colours next season, what strengths do they bring to the team.
â€œTom Soar is a big lad and has a good shot and I feel he can do a great job with the right line mates. Tom is also young and hungry, I really value that.â€
â€œNicky Watt will bring passion, a physical edge and presence to our roster. Again Nicky is still young and hungry to do well. I want a real feeling of hunger in the ranks if we can get it. You need a balance of course but energy and passion will deliver a lot in my book.â€
With players coming in, there will always be players moving out, and this year we have seen a few non-returnees. Maris and Jamie have both hung up their skates whilst Lauko, Graham, Cownie and Carlon will be plying their trade elsewhere come September. How big a hole is that in your team plans ?
â€œWe have a lost a few guys, some were known, one or two not so. I think it is inevitable consequence when you focus on a younger and improving line up that you will get some churn with it. Players that do really well will be picked up and you need to be ready for the next wave each season, that is why we had guys like Balmer in the fold – preparing him for the year ahead. Hook is another, you are getting them ready to be the next top two line player, it is really important we have younger guys in the line up to do that.â€
â€œScoring is the one element of the roster that will be hard to replace, it always is. Itâ€™s the same in all sports, you pay for goal scoring. This, right now, is my biggest challenge in the jigsaw of recruitment. We are very close on most fronts to being where we want to be, but there a few more changes than I may have preferred, but again that brings with it some new opportunities.â€
How close are we to signing the Imports for the season ahead, and whatâ€™s the latest on Glowa and Sladok ?
â€œWe will talk to both Jeff and Jozef and we will look all over to find what we need with what we have to offer. This will be the key focus once we have tied up all the British guys. I expect to be finishing our British recruitment in the next two weeks.â€
Reading the various Hockey forums and facebook pages, fans like to talk about players they have seen outside of our League as potential signimgs. Last season there was talk of the ex-NCAA guy playing for Cambridge Uni in the varsity game, and this season they have been talking about one or two of the guys playing for Dinamo Peterborough. Do you and your coaching team ever follow up on these and take a look ?
â€œThe biggest hurdle we face is eligibility to play in this league, many of these guys are simply not eligible. I look at hundreds of players each season. There is always a reason guys end up at a lower level and it isnâ€™t a chance thing. I am not against taking a risk on guys from lower tiers but only if the background homework stacks up. They must be able to do what you want, when you need it and how you need it done. Personal character, attitude and mentality are vital, as important as skills, speed etc.â€
Last season saw the club drawn into a battle for the final play-off slot, and whilst exciting it was maybe the wrong end of the table for some fans. What are the plans for this season, and what are your thoughts on some of the other teams signings so far ?
â€œIt has certainly been an inflated market place this summer. Other teams are offering very strong money for British players which has made it harder for the smaller clubs. With the budget we have and where I expect to be I would hope we can improve on our position from last season and push on. That has to be the aim, we will never aim to go backwards. Over a 54 game season it is very hard to compete with 5 or 6 of the teams and what they are investing in their rosters. As we showed last season, we are more than capable of beating any team in our own rink.â€
Over the past few years we have had a number of players sign 2-way contracts with Elite League sides. Last season saw Luke Ferrara go on a 2-way with the Cardiff Devils, whilst several others guested for the Nottingham Panthers. Do you expect to see more of our players working on 2-way contracts with Elite League teams this season.
â€œYes, we will have a couple of guys on two ways again this season, for those guys that it aids their development and doesnâ€™t hinder our plans.â€
Longer term would you like to see a more defined farm-team policy between EPL and Elite Leagues. Do you still believe the EPL is a Development League it is supposed to be ?
â€œI am not sure a more structured farm team approach would work commercially.â€
â€œThe EPL has to be a development league. I think all leagues are, players are developing at all tiers. The make up of the league and leagues in our country dictate we will see younger guys ploughing through the EPL en-route to bigger and better things. I like that, its exciting and healthy and is good for the game and product in my opinion.â€
â€œMore importantly, it is vital for the long term improvement of our game, the national programs and for the sport to be commercially viable and sustainableâ€
Finally, do you have a message for the Phantoms fans for the Summer.
â€œI hope all of the Phantoms supporters enjoy their summer. When September comes around rest assured we will have the most competitive and entertaining team we can for the budget we have. Iâ€™m looking forward to it already.â€
â€œPlease remember, if you know any one who would like to get involved with the club, please let Carrie know. In the meantime get the BBQ and beer out !!â€