April 29th, 2016

Anastas ready to embrace new role

By Lethbridge Herald on April 16, 2014.

Dylan Purcell
He’s still an assistant coach in the American Hockey League, preparing for the playoffs for the defending league Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins.
He’s recruiting players for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s hockey team as part of his new head coaching duties.
He has to find a place to live in Lethbridge, and has to evaluate the players he is inheriting and determine what resources he has at his disposal.
And he’s planning to get married this summer.
If it sounds like Spiros Anastas needs a couple of extra hours in the day, don’t worry, he’s found them.
“It’s been really busy. We’ve got the playoffs ahead for the Calder Cup defence. They say sleep is a weapon but I am going to have to use it wisely but I think I can handle it, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
And Anastas said being based in the Eastern time zone has helped as he can touch base with players out west.
“It is nice because when my work day ends out there, I still have a couple of hours that I can get to work on some of this stuff,” he said.
He also felt a visit to Lethbridge was something that needed to be done, despite staying in touch with players over the phone. There’s the matter of checking out his office, finding a place to stay and meeting up again with players. Anastas had the chance to see most of the players during the interview process, but he said it’s a different sort of meeting once you’re the head coach.
“When I met them, it was just a hockey guy talking to other guys, now it’s your head coach talking to players, it’s definitely different,” he said.
“I thought it was important for me to make another trip back here after the interview process because one, the first step in recruiting is to identify what you have here,” he said.
“I think it was important to ensure the guys that I am working hard whether I’m here and my feet are in Lethbridge or not and two, I’m willing to listen to what they have to say.
“They’re the ones who have lived it, I haven’t lived it. I have an idea of what it’s going to be, but they’re the ones who have lived and can share their thoughts about what could have been better, what was good, what were the silver linings behind the clouds.”
The U of L may have to wait for its head coach quite awhile, as Grand Rapids is expected to contend again, even moreso if the NHL parent club, the Detroit Red Wings, lose in the first round to the Boston Bruins.
Even in that situation, Anastas said the extended time with the Griffins will benefit the ’Horns as he continues to watch and learn from the best organization in the NHL over the past 20 years. The 28-year-old did come highly recommended by current Detroit coaches and former Pronghorn coaches Mike Babcock and Bill Peters.
“The ability to work with the people in the Detroit organization every day, the player development guys, the scouts the coaches in Detroit and the coaching staff in Grand Rapids, it’s great and the best thing is we learn from each other.
“It ripens me a little more as a coach for the Pronghorns.”

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