BY DAN MCNEE
ST. CATHARINES – One of Listowel’s most accomplished hockey sons will be returning home, following the announcement that Jason Brooks has resigned as assistant coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs last week.
The 36-year-old cited a fourth back surgery in six years and the need to be closer to his family as the reasons for departing the organization for which he spent the last two years behind the bench. Brooks spent the previous nine years with the Guelph Storm as an assistant, head coach and general manager. He also spent three seasons in the OHL as a player with the Ottawa 67s and the London Knights.
“It’s very hard to leave something that I’m so passionate about,” said Brooks. “It’s been a huge part of my life. I owe the OHL a lot. I loved every minute of it.
“I’m not just leaving an organization – I’m leaving friends.”
As the assistant to head coach Marty Williamson, Brooks helped the IceDogs to a record of 77-52-7 over two seasons, including a berth in the OHL final against the London Knights in 2012. Brooks returns home to his wife and three young children and will take a position at the family business, BTE, owned by his father, Jim.
“I’ve got a young family that’s growing up and that I’d like to be around,” said Brooks, adding, “I’ve got a whole company to learn and all the time in the world to learn it.”
Brooks will continue to be involved with coaching, this time within the Listowel minor hockey system. Brooks, his father and friends will all be involved with operating the Atom Rep Cyclones squad for the 2013-14 season.
“I thought it was something I’d like to get into now,” he said. “The whole idea of getting involved with minor hockey is the family aspect.”
Brooks maintains that given the opportunity he would not return to the OHL bench in the future, and that coaching at that level is more time and commitment than he is willing to give once again. Brooks did say that he wouldn’t rule out the opportunity to coach junior in a more local capacity.
“It’s a possibility,” he said. “You just never know. It’s wide open for me now.”