Coach: Chris Lyness, 32-year-old Pincourt resident and account manager for Nespresso.
Team: Assistant, Lac St. Louis midget AAA Lions.
Years coached: Three.
Highest level played: Pro in Denmark. (10)
Coaching tip: Get to know your players.
Chris Lyness once served as captain of the Lac St.Louis Lions during the 1996-97 season. Now the former Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick is back with the Lions as an assistant coach to Jon Goyens.
What do you recall of your playing days with the Lions?
Lyness: It was a long, long time ago. It seems like yesterday to be honest. (Laughs). It goes so quick.
What’s changed about midget AAA since you played?
Lyness: A lot of things have changed based on the sport etudes programs. Back in my day, I think there were maybe one or two teams that were running sport etudes. Now it seems the whole league, except the Lions, are running sport etudes. So it’s a completely different concept.
What about the players?
Lyness: When it comes to the players, I think today’s players are in much better shape. With the access to summer training and just being on the ice every day, those are big differences.
How did you get into coaching?
Lyness: I grew up two houses away from Gerry Gomez…A few years ago he asked me to help coach with him. We coached peewee AA in Deux Rives, and then bantam AA. Then I spoke to Jon Goyens who I’ve known since I was young. I used to play with his younger brother. The Lions asked me to help out with the defence.
Do you like coaching with the Lions?
Lyness: For sure. One thing Jon, Karl (Svoboda) and Raz (Saltarelli) do really well is create that hard work/compete culture. I think that’s why they have success year in, year out, to be honest.
Where did you grow up?
Lyness: I grew up in Dollard and then I moved to Baie D’Urfe when I was 14. So I only played one year for what was then called Lac St. Louis West, which is Lakeshore now. Then I went to play midget AAA. I played there two years, when I was 15 and 16.
The Lions had a very talented team in those years.
Lyness: It was a phenomenal team. Kevin Figsby was our coach. We had Corey Pecker, Brandon Reid and Carl Mallette up front. And five of the six defencemen later made major junior, which is unheard of nowadays. Now you get maybe one defenceman that plays major. We lost in overtime in Game 7 of the semifinals in St. Eustache…a guy scored in our own net.
What made you jump to the Quebec semi-pro ranks?
Lyness: Back then the semi-pro league was at its height of salaries. So when someone comes knocking at your door and says come to one practice and two games per week and this is how much we’re going to pay you, it’s tough to say ‘no’.
Was a semi-pro salary comparable to an East Coast League salary?
Lyness: No, much more. Some guys don’t make much money (in the East Coast), maybe $400 a week. In semi-pro, you’re making triple that.…Later, I was lucky to get the opportunity to go toEurope. Once I was there, I loved it. I travelled the world and I got paid to do it.