Medicine Hat, AB - Shaun Clouston anchored the Medicine Hat Tigers for 16 seasons.
He joined the club in 2003 as an assistant coach for Willie Desjardins.
In 2010 when Desjardins left, it was Clouston’s time to step up and take over
Curtis Valk, who played his first full WHL season the same year, says that Clouston did a great job making that transition.
“You know it’s tough for anybody when they go from the assistant coach position to a head coach position. It’s just a different dynamic I think with every team,” The Medicine Hat product said. “Being an assistant coach, you’re with the guys more. You interact with them. And you know as a head coach you need to be a little bit more serious and more in control”
Take control he did.
Clouston broke the regular season coaching record with win number 324 midway through the 2017-18 season.
Mark Rassell, who was Tigers captain when he broke the record, described the coach as passionate.
“He loved Medicine Hat, he loved the Tigers. Obviously, he was there a lot longer than I was. But he was very passionate about growing our team, growing us as players, and then developing himself as well,” Rassell said over the phone from Calgary. “I know from my first year to my fourth year, he developed a lot as a coach. He’s always reading, trying to find different ways. Like different ways to go about coaching and different ways to connect to players.”
Clouston made the playoffs eight of his nine seasons as head coach, Including this last year with Dylan MacPherson leading the way on the blue line.
“There were times when we struggled last year and he kind of turned it around for us. He got a reaction that was much needed. So going into pro hockey or wherever I go in hockey, make everyday count and play like it’s your last,” said the 21-year-old from Redcliff.
A number of Clouston’s players have gone on to have professional careers after the WHL, including MacPherson and Valk, who both say the lessons they learned from the Tigers and Clouston were vital.
“You don’t have the trust of the coaching staff quite as much as you did in junior. So you have to earn that respect,” Valk continued. “I think Shaun did a really good job with me and teaching me what it takes in order to earn that respect from your coach. And I’m sure he’s done that for a lot of other players as well.”
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