Tonight at an exclusive event for Season Ticket Holders, the Stena Line Belfast Giants announced the arrival of their new Head Coach, or rather a return for a former coach, as Steve Thornton was unveiled as the new man in charge of the current Elite League Champions.
Thornton previously led the Giants for two seasons, winning both the British Knock Out Cup and the Challenge Cup in 2009 then followed up with a Playoff Championship the following season in 2010.
Thornton originally came to Belfast for the second half of the 2002-03 season as a player and the final piece of the puzzle for a team that eventually went on to win the first Playoff Title in franchise history.
Thornton was originally hired by Kelman in the spring of 2008 to take over from the departing Ed Courtenay and left after two highly successful seasons to pursue a career outside of ice hockey.
Thornton spoke with a passion about the Giants and Northern Ireland that reflected his decision to return to Belfast.
“I loved my time in Belfast and so did my family. Working for the Belfast Giants is very special, unlike any other hockey team. I have missed this place and this team since the day I left. I am very excited to be back and I plan on being here for a long time.”
Kelman reflected on the hiring of Thornton and his role within the organisation.
“This is more than just a coaching job and Steve gets that. He obviously played a huge part in the on ice performance when he was here before but he was instrumental in a lot of the off-ice changes that led to our success. He helped set up the scholarship programme we had with the University of Ulster and he changed the fundamental way we recruited our teams. I am really looking forward to having him back with the Giants.
“This is not a one year contract to coach a hockey team. Steve is moving his family and his whole life here to take up a permanent role within our organisation. His role encompasses overseeing the hockey side of our business and the coaching of the team, but he will also be tasked with building links and developing our junior ice hockey in Northern Ireland.”