Former NHLer named new Lincolns’ assistant coach

Nathan Perrott played for the Lincs in 1993-94 championship season  

By Pat Payton

Nathan Perrott says he’s come full circle with the St. Marys Lincolns.

Twenty-seven years after the rugged winger played on the 1993-94 Western Jr. ‘B’ championship team, Perrott is returning to the Lincs as an assistant coach.

The 44-year-old Owen Sound native is replacing Tyler Duarte, who recently stepped down from the position after three seasons with the team. Duarte cited “work commitments” as the main reason.

In an interview with the Independent, Perrott says he’s excited about returning to coaching — especially with the Junior team that helped launch his hockey career. “It’s nice to contribute back to the team that really kind of springboarded my playing career,” he said. “We had a great team in St. Marys that year.”

Big, tough and talented

Perrott remembers the ‘93-94 Lincolns as being a big, tough and talented group of players, who were coached by Terry Uniac and Gerry Seguin. That Lincs team went 42-8 in the regular season and then took down the Petrolia Jets in six games in the league final.

“Hopefully we can have success again, now that I’m a coach with the Lincolns,” Perrott continued. “I’ve coached in the past and have some experience, and I’m looking forward to working with (head coach) Trent McClement and (assistant) Ryan Shipley. I just want to help the kids get better. It will be really good to get back in the locker room and be part of a hockey team again and work towards a championship.

“I’ve been out of (coaching) for a few years and was looking to get back into it. I’m pretty happy and excited looking ahead.”

About seven years ago, Perrott was Player Development Coach with the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack. After two seasons with the Attack, he wasn’t able to continue in that role due to a job change and different work schedule.

Prior to that, he was an assistant coach in the Detroit Belle Tire ‘AAA’ minor hockey system, and twice helped teams win Michigan State championships. Perrott’s eldest son Andrew played on those Major Peewee and Major Bantam teams. Now 19, the defenceman has spent the majority of the past three seasons with the OHL Attack.

13-year pro playing career

Nathan Perrott also played three years in the OHL, and then spent 13 seasons playing professional hockey. He wants to use those experiences as a coach, and feels he has tips he can pass on to Junior hockey players today.

“I played a lot of seasons in a lot of different leagues,” he said. “I’m going to lean heavily on my experience. When I played pro, I used to get stickhandling advice from Alex Mogilny, and shooting and passing advice from Tomas Kaberle, and skating advice from some of the best skaters in the NHL.

“I’ve got a lot of little tricks that I can teach from my playing career, and I played at a high level. Depending on the player, and what he needs to work on, Trent will help point me to what player needs help and any advice I can give him. I will also help with the team work aspect; it’s probably one of the most important things and that’s to have a team identity. We want a strong group of guys who play hard for each other and play hard for the coaches and play hard for the crest on the front of their jerseys.

“It’s that kind of thing I definitely want to bring to the team,” he added.

Firefighter at Bruce Power

Perrott lives in Paisley, and is employed as a firefighter at Bruce Power in Tiverton. His official title is drills and exercise coordinator for the fire department. “I took on a three-year day rotation in emergency management, and I coordinate all the drills and exercises for EPS (Emergency Protective Services) Fire,” he explained. “But I’m also still a firefighter.”

His flexible work schedule will allow him the time to be on the Lincs’ coaching staff. “I now have a little window where I can get back into coaching, and I’m going to take advantage of it,” he said. “The travel doesn’t bother me. I have a window where I’m working day shift for three years.”

When required, Perrott says he can also stay with Marty and Tracey Thomson, whom he billeted with when he was a St. Marys player back in the ‘93-94 season.

Great addition to the staff

Director of Hockey Operations/GM Greg Smale is convinced Perrott is a great addition to the Lincolns’ staff.

“I think it would be easy to look at his playing and coaching background, and say that he was the easy choice,” Smale told the newspaper. “There were a lot of good candidates, but Nathan ticked a lot of boxes for us. He coached skills with the Owen Sound Attack, and he’s experienced many different things at many pro levels.

“The connection to town meant a lot, too. When I joined the team, there wasn’t a lot of involvement with St. Marys people, and it was something I wanted to fix. There’s a lot of really knowledgeable hockey people in this area who are connected with the Lincolns, and I felt that was being under-utilized. Nathan definitely has that history with the Lincolns, and we’re really, really excited to have him as part of the organization.”

Smale was impressed how a modest Perrott explained to the interviewing staff how he wants to make the Lincs a better team. “He told us what he can offer as a coach and I respected him for that. He didn’t just talk about his playing career and what he did and who he knows.

“It’s really exciting to have Nathan and Ryan and Trent, who has a winning background in Jr. ‘C’ and has been named coach-of-the-year with us. I think we’ve put together one remarkable staff, and I’m looking forward to all the ideas that everyone is going to bring forward.”

Second-round OHL draft pick

After the one memorable playing season with the Lincs, Nathan Perrott was drafted in the second round by the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and was named the team’s rookie-of-the-year in 1994-95. The big winger played three full seasons in the OHL. He picked up over 600 penalty minutes, but also had a 30-goal season with Oshawa in 1995-96.

Perrott played in eight pro leagues, including 89 games in the NHL with Nashville, Toronto and Dallas. He also played in the American League, International League, East Coast League and Central League, and spent parts of two seasons in Russia with Chekhov Vityaz as well.

Perrott admits that he’s always had a “soft spot” for the Lincolns and St. Marys. He describes St. Marys as a great town with great people.

“Honestly, that (‘93-94) season rates as one of the most fun seasons I had in hockey,” he said. “We had a great group of guys that year. We had a ton of talent, but we were also a close-knit team and we all worked hard together.

“And the coaches, management and trainers helped make it a great season all round. It was a really special time in my life . . . and it just seems like it was yesterday.”