A year after joining the Kelowna Chiefs as an assistant coach, Travers Rebman takes over for Ken Law as head coach.
Law, a six-time Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) divisional Coach of the Year and two-time Overall Coach of the Year (2010-11, 18-19), becomes the Chiefs’ new general manager. It’s part of a restructuring by the organization to make it a premier program in the KIJHL.
“Having Ken there in the GM role is going to be good – having him for a mentor will help a lot too,” says Rebman. “Even though it was a short season, I was still able to get a good feel for the league and how things run within the program. Having a guy as experienced as Ken there and getting to spend a year with him was great for me.”
Rebman will continue to work with Thierry Martine and Carl Poole, who are returning as assistant coaches.
“For me it’s exciting,” says Rebman. “I’m honoured to be a coach in this league and this franchise in particular. We’ve got a great group of people here that I’ve gotten to know over the last year. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to learn and get better myself.”
Having familiarity with the Chiefs is important for Rebman, who believes that will help them have a good start. He played a season of junior hockey with the Fernie Ghostriders when they were in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. Rebman, 41, who was born and raised in Prince George, where he won a provincial championship in 1995-96 season, has coached in different roles since he was 16. He’s worked in hockey schools, been involved with the Puck Masters Hockey Training while in college and coached in minor hockey as well as spring programs after starting a family.
More recently, he has been working with players focused on their individual skill development.
“That’s probably a big part of what I’m going to lean on. Help players progress and get better,” says Rebman. “In terms of how I handle things, I’m definitely going to be pretty demanding, but fair. Players are always going to have to earn their ice time and opportunity. That generally starts with how they prepare themselves and approach practice and off ice activities. We are going to give opportunities to guys that are committed and putting in the work. That is something I always appreciate with the players.”
Rebman, who feels rewarded from helping players succeed, especially after going through adversity, pays attention to their attitude for development.
“It’s pretty hard to develop somebody that doesn’t have much interest in getting better,” he says. “I will put effort into people that are prepared to put the work in themselves. That is a big starting point to begin with.”
His junior experience will help as the Chiefs coach because Rebman can relate to players. He can help them get through struggles or anything else they are dealing with.
His philosophy on player development will factor into the team’s style of play, which will focus on being hard to compete against and being a solid two-way team. Player assessments during summer camps will be important.
“That is going to dictate our systems to some degree,” says Rebman. “Initially, it’s going to be mostly concept based rather than any strict systems. We want to allow guys to develop using their instincts and skills as we go along.”
The Chiefs held a spring camp focused on skill work and Rebman was impressed with the ability of players.
“There are lots of player options that are available. We have the luxury to look at people and their character. We want to have good people here. Honest players that are going to play both ends of the ice.”