Q & A with head coach Roy Sommer

Dec 14, 2016

Roy Sommer, head coach of the San Jose Barracuda, is in the midst of his 19th season behind the bench of the San Jose Sharks top developmental affiliate and his 21st overall with the Sharks organization.

On February 10, 2016, Sommer collected his record-breaking 637th win to surpass Fred “Bun” Cook (636 wins) for the most in AHL history.

After practice on Wednesday (Dec. 14), Roy sat down with Barracuda broadcaster Nick Nollenberger to discuss what is the most rewarding part of his job after all these years and what the benefits are of having the Barracuda in San Jose.

How has hockey changed the Bay Area and became a part of the culture in the last 25 years?

Where I grew up and played, Berkeley, CA, I think it has gone downhill, I don’t even know if there is a rink anymore, but I know San Jose has changed. The South Bay has picked it up and has kept the Bay Area in the game.

In your 19th season as the head coach of the San Jose Sharks top developmental team, what is it about the game that you love so much and has kept you in it for all these years?

The biggest thing is the opportunity these guys are given when they are drafted and come in. Maybe even a guy who was a free agent or a late pick, even a first rounder, when they get to play in the NHL, and you had a part in it. You see guys go on and have really good careers, that keeps you motivated.

Is watching guys go up and have success in the NHL the most rewarding part of your job?

Yeah, it’s fun being a part of a team and an organization and watch the guys grow and mature. You have guys that are 19, and you have them a year or two later… Mirco Mueller is a great example.  He wasn’t real mature when I first got him, he was just out there, but his game evolved. He built his foundation and it seems like he is having so much more fun now. He’s got his call-up, and hopefully, he gets an opportunity to show them how well he has progressed.

What is the greatest asset of having the AHL and NHL club in the same city?

The biggest thing is all the eyes are on you. There is nowhere to hide, and if you're playing well, everyone is going to see it. There is always someone around, so there is no one to blame if you don’t get better but yourself.  There are hands on everything you do here. When we were on the East Coast, as far as we were at times, it was out of site out of mind, but there always right here now.

When did you notice a recommitment to the restocking of young talent in the farm system?

It was hard in the past because we gave up a lot of draft picks in order to make a run at the Cup. It seemed we would always deal a high pick or a good player to help the parent team go deep in the playoffs. We’ve stopped doing that, and they have hung onto their draft picks and made some smart decisions, and it is all coming to fruition. The O’Regan’s, the Timo’s, the Chartier’s, the Mueller’s and Goldobin’s, you could go on and on, but we are a pretty deep organization now.

With different coaching personal with the Sharks, how has the front office relayed a unified message and what does the organization want to be instilled in these young guys?

The biggest thing is we want the players to play the same way down here as they do up there, so when they go up top it’s seamless. When they step into a game, they shouldn’t have qualms about what is going on out there. Everything they do up there we try to emulate down here.

What is one characteristic that the organization is looking for when they draft or acquire a player?

The biggest thing is they look for guys that make those around them better, guys who play an inside and competitive game. The era of going after a player, which is not a great skater and trying to mold him into that is gone. You have to be able to skate to play in the NHL, and if you look at it, that is one of the biggest attributes they are looking for.

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