“I want to be a team of blue collar workers and workers”

The Mayhem has announced that Zac Desjardins will be the franchise’s fifth head coach and director of hockey operations.

MACON, Ga. (41NBC/WMGT) — The Macon Mayhem announced the franchise’s fifth head coach on Tuesday.

Zac Desjardins, who will also serve as director of hockey operations, comes to Macon after a four-year stint as an assistant coach with the ECHL Tulsa Oilers.

“I wanted to see what I could do as a head coach, and I think that will be a good starting point,” Desjardins told 41NBC on Tuesday night. “It will tell me the truth: if I am destined to be a head coach later or am I an assistant coach? Who knows?”

Tulsa went 132-107-40 during Desjardins’ tenure as a deputy, including a Conference Finals appearance in the 2018-19 season.

“I know the game of hockey is always changing and always evolving, but the one thing I’ve learned is that it’s always basic,” Desjardins said. “You can make up these fancy games, but basically it’s basically hard hockey. You have to be physical. You have to move.

The Calgary, Alta., native played junior hockey in the SJHL and AWHL before beginning his coaching career at Kent State University. In 2007, he began coaching junior hockey as an assistant coach with the Campbellton Tigers.

According to a press release from Mayhem, he spent most of his life in Denver, Colorado, where he worked as a hockey camp coordinator and coach for some of the area’s top junior hockey talent.

“I learned going from juniors to pros that obviously it’s a lot faster,” he told 41NBC. “The players are always the same. You still have to somehow build them. It’s not like, ‘Hey, I’m an adult. I can prepare myself. You still have to prepare them, so I think it’s still a teaching game. That’s what I really learned in Tulsa, because I always watched, and you watch a practice or you watch a game, and you’re like, ‘Oh, you’re not teaching these guys anything at the level professional ?’ And then I found out that actually you probably teach a lot more than you do with the junior guys.

Desjardins’ hockey mentor for more than 20 years, John Paris Jr., was the first black man to coach a professional hockey team. Paris coached the Atlanta Knights of the International Hockey League and led them to the Turner Cup championship in 1994. He then came to Macon to coach the Macon Whoopee for three seasons beginning in 1996.

“It’s a bit of a little global moment for me,” Desjardins said.

The coach acknowledged that filling Kevin Kerr’s shoes won’t be easy. In separate stints (2015-18 and 2020-21), Kerr led the Mayhem to two regular-season titles (2016-17 and 2020-21) and a President Cup Playoff title (2017). He resigned after the 2020-2021 season.

“I think no matter where you go as a coach, you always fill the shoes,” Desjardins said. “I think he’s always trying to convince players and fans that, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a little bit different, but we’re all hockey guys, and we probably all have the same ideas about what’s supposed to happen. pass on the ice. .’ But when it comes to filling the shoes, I always say that it is impossible to fill the shoes of another coach, because we are all different.

Fans can expect their new coach to be a blue-collar, hard-working team.

“That’s not to say every game is going to be five fights,” Desjardins said. “I just want guys who are going to put it on the line for their teammates next to them. Sometimes you get teams, and you have two guys blocking shots, they fight or they make all the hits, and everybody skates.

“I want a hardworking but quick team,” he continued. “And when I say fast, I don’t mean, ‘Hey, we’ll be the fastest, thinnest guys on the ice.’ I just want guys who are going to attack the pucks instead of waiting. And then as soon as we get a turnover, it’s not, ‘Well, let’s bring it back and set it up.’ It’s, “Let’s get it in their net as fast as we can” and create our chances that way instead of looking for this nice backdoor game I want to go to their net and try to create as many chances as possible .

Desjardins said he and his wife enjoyed their weekend in Macon and plan to return in late September.

“It’s nice to see the city,” he said. “Looks like downtown is trying to transform it and grow, and some cool new restaurants and breweries, and everything looks nice and new. We are really happy to be here.

Training camp begins October 1. The Mayhem regular season begins in Knoxville on October 15. The home opener is Oct. 29 against Fayetteville.

For more information, visit maconmayhem.com or call Mayhem’s front desk at (478) 803-1592.

Elizabeth J. Harless