A native of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Canada, Jimmy Bonneau begins his first season as an assistant coach for the San Jose Barracuda after serving as a pro scout for the Sharks over the last two seasons. SJBarracuda.com sat down with Bonneau recently to ask him a few questions as a part of the offseason staff spotlight series.
Walk us through your hockey career and how you got into coaching?
I began playing minor hockey in my hometown of Baie-Comeau and then I left home at 16 to play midget. From there, I moved to Montreal to play major junior in the QMJHL. After my junior career, I turned pro at 20 and played 11 years including four under coach Sommer for the Worcester Sharks. The past two years I’ve been scouting for the Sharks and this year will be my first in coaching.
You were a scout before becoming a coach, was coaching always the end goal?
I went into my post-playing career with an open mind. I loved the scouting side of things and now looking forward to getting back in a more hands-on role in the development of our prospects. Coaching was always on my mind in the later years of my career but when I retired the opportunity to scout for the Sharks presented itself, so I put coaching on hold.
Who was your favorite hockey player as a kid and why?
I loved Peter Forsberg. He played for my favorite team, and he could do it all. Skill and grit, he was the whole package.
Who was your favorite NHL team as a kid?
Describe your game when you were a player?
I was known as an enforcer. A guy that would stick up for his teammates and do what had to be done to sway momentum. I turned pro at a time where the role was changing, so I had to adapt and build other parts of my game to stick around.
You played under coach Sommer, how is it going to be coaching with him?
Roy and I have an excellent relationship, and it was a pleasure playing for him. His energy is contagious, and the opportunity to learn from him and soak up his knowledge and experience in the game is something I look forward to.
What style of coach do you think you’ll be?
I see myself as a players coach. I want to bring positivity to the rink every day and just be there for the guys. I want to be a resource for them and person they can rely on.
Does it help becoming a coach in an organization that you’re familiar with already?
I think so. You understand the culture of the organization and the style of player and team they want to build. Plus, I already have relationships with the staff and players having been with the team and around the group.
What can fans expect from the team this year?
Youth, speed and skill. It’s a mature young group and we’re looking to let them
use their creativity.
What are you most looking forward to about living in California?
I’m really looking forward to being at the rink and meeting everyone. I want to get to know the fans and just soak it all in. I’ll explore the area next summer, but for now, I’m all about hockey.
What is your greatest hockey memory of your life?
Hard to pick one. Most playoff pushes are memorable but winning the Kelly Cup with the Cincinnati Cyclones has got to be up there.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at the rink?
I like martial arts and boxing. Also, I enjoy music and going to concerts.