By Rebecca Moase
Sept. 28, 2015
Jim Hulton has been skating for as long as he can remember.
His first time was on the ice of a neighbourhood pond when he was four years old.
He and his three older brothers grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario. Family and friends would come and skate on the frozen pond, Hulton said.
“We always had games going.”
He still does, but now Hulton is the head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders Hockey team.
The team is off to a good start this season, but every team has to continue to improve, he said.
“I think we have the foundation to have a good year. I have a lot of confidence that they are going to work hard every day.”
Hulton knows what it is like to work hard.
He has played in the Ontario Hockey League, then for four years in the Canadian University League at the York University of Toronto.
He also has experience in the United States Hockey League and as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Florida Panthers.
The path to coaching created itself, Hulton said.
“I graduated from university and had a real void without playing the game.”
His oldest brother was involved in minor hockey. He encouraged him to give back through coaching, Hulton said.
“I quickly fell in love with it.”
In May, he got a call from the Islanders general manager Grant Sonier who told him the Islanders were looking for a new coach.
“My name had been suggested by a few people.”
In June, Sonier and Hulton chatted at the National Hockey League draft in Florida. It became obvious they shared similar philosophies, Hulton said.
“The more I researched the team, the city, the province, it became an intriguing option.”
Three days later, he was hired as head coach.
Over the next year he would like to see the group come together as a collective unit, he said.
“The team is made up of individuals but they have to come together and be willing to set aside individual goals for the good of the team.”
There’s a lot of anticipation and expectation among their fan base this year, Hulton said.
“We relish the opportunity to meet and exceed those expectations. Hopefully, we can be a team on the ice that can make the people of P.E.I. proud.”
Oliver Cooper from the Charlottetown Islanders said having a new coach this year has been great.
“It was a clean slate for everybody. It was come to camp… bring your spot and make your way with him.”
Hulton is really attentive to details. He wants the team to be structured and organized, Cooper said.
“Every coach has a different style. Just like every player has a different style.”