The Little Caps are pleased to announce that Director of Professional Development Craig Desjarlais will serve as Head Coach of the PeeWee Minor (2010) squad for the 2021-22 season.
As Director of Professional Development, Craig keeps Little Caps coaches connected to the latest trends and developments in the game, relying on his network of contacts at the junior, college, and pro levels to keep the Little Caps on pace with the evolution of our game. This is an important position within the organization as we build our complete development model. That model requires coordination of programming and coaching across the club, not only for team practices, but also for the supplemental training the club can now offer its players.
The Professional Development role is popular in successful European clubs, and is a role USA Hockey is encouraging American clubs to adopt as it focuses on mentoring and developing coaches the same way coaches mentor and develop players. “We push our players to improve each week, and the same is true for our coaches- we all want to get better at what we do,” offers Executive Director Doug Plocki. “Craig brings valuable support and important resources we can now offer our coaches to help them improve as coaching professionals.”
Craig is a hockey lifer. Born and raised in Canada, he worked his way up through the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League before departing Canada for the United States. He was a four-year letter winner at Bowling Green State University (NCAA Div. I), where he graduated with a degree in Business Communications. Craig then pursued a 5-year professional career with the New Orleans Brass (ECHL), Toledo Storm (ECHL), and Knoxville Icebears (SPHL). Craig was named to Knoxville’s All-Time Franchise Team in 2012.
“A lifetime of hockey has afforded me so many great relationships that I constantly utilize to stay current with the ever-evolving game of hockey,” says Desjarlais. “I look forward to building relationships with the coaches, players and families of the WLC and under the guidance of Doug Plocki and Matt Thomas enhancing our skills to create our best product on and off the ice.”
Following his pro career, Craig launched a successful business in Loudoun County, and 15 years on remains President and CEO of that organization. And he has continued his hockey career as well, building a wealth of experience he now brings to the Little Caps. Craig has over 20 years of experience combining coaching and instruction at some of the most established and successful hockey teaching academies in North America. He has worked as Head Instructor at both the Huron and Turcotte hockey schools, as well as working with youth hockey programs at Bowling Green and Knoxville. He has served as Mid-Atlantic Region scout for the Boston Bandits (USPHL – NCDC). More recently he has turned his efforts to youth hockey in Virginia and Maryland, coaching nearly every level from Mite to Midget, including several trips to USA Hockey National Championships.
“Craig is a guy we’ve tried to get on our bench for a long, long time,” says Hockey Director Matt Thomas. “After seeing him in action for a year, we’re even more excited to be adding him to our group. There won’t be a 2010 team in America next year with a better coach.”