Fiddler on the bench

The Kelowna Rockets have brought in a familiar face to round out their coaching staff.

Vernon Fiddler, who played 152 games over parts of four seasons for the Rockets from 1997 to 2000, has been hired as an assistant under head coach Adam Foote.

He replaces Travis Crickard, who left the team following a mutual parting of the ways in December.

Fiddler retired in 2017 after a 15-year NHL career in which he amassed 104 goals and 157 assists in 877 games with Nashville, Dallas, Phoenix and New Jersey.

He spent last season as an organizational coach within the Dallas Stars system. He assisted with skills and development coaching with both the NHL Stars and their AHL affiliate the Texas Stars.

"He brings a lot, we're thrilled to have him join our organization," said Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton.

"We really wanted to find a forward for our coaching staff. I think it's great that Fiddler is a former Rocket player. He has some experience working with the Dallas Stars and had a great NHL career."

Fiddler joins Foote and other ex-Rockets Kris Mallette and Adam Brown on the coaching staff. Foote and Mallette were both NHL defenceman, while Brown was a goaltender.

Foote says he's excited for both the coaching staff and the players.

"In my opinion, from the years I played against Fiddler I thought he had a really high hockey IQ and I loved how he played with confidence," said Foote.

"He brings wisdom and years of his experience that our players have not had, that in the forward position can help teach them. I feel we're very fortunate to have a guy of this level on our team."

For Fiddler, he says it feels a bit like deja vu.

He said Hamilton gave him a chance in 1997 as an undrafted player, and now he is getting a chance in coaching.

"With my experience playing in the American League and the NHL as a solid defensive forward, I think that I'm going to be able to help these young guys with a lot of things," said Fiddler.

"Those things are what you need to be good at to make yourself a better player, from the things I've learned over the years and to develop into an NHL player I think that I can help these young guys."

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