Now a head coach in the NHL, Bill Peters points to his time with the Alberta Cup as a key part of his development as a coach.

Reflecting on 30 years of the Alberta Cup: Bill Peters

The 2016 Alberta Cup marks the 30th anniversary of the very first Alberta Cup, played in Edmonton in 1986. We asked a handful of past participants of the Alberta Cup to share their memories with us.

Current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters spent two years with Team South at the Alberta Cup – in 2003 as the head coach, and as a coach mentor in 2004. His coaching career began in 1996, where he was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs until 2002. His first head coaching job came with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, which he held until the 2004-05 season.

Peters then returned to the Spokane Chiefs, this time as head coach, leading the team to a WHL and Memorial Cup Championship in 2008. After spending time as the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, and as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, Peters landed his first ever NHL head coaching job in 2014 with the Hurricanes.

Internationally, Peters was the head coach of the gold medal-winning Team Canada squad at the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and will serve as the head coach of Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships in Russia.

Q: Can you still recall your very first day at the Alberta Cup?

A: It’s an exciting time for sure, I remember it clear as a bell. We had a really good team, we had a bunch of the guys from that Airdrie Bantam team that had won the Western Canadian championship, they were a real good group of young men to work with, and I enjoyed every bit of.

I remember having a side bet with Team North, which was coached by Tom Keca, for a case of beer, and I lost the bet. Or you know what, I think I won; I better look up in the standings. If we won, I’m still waiting to get paid, if we lost, I paid the very next day.

Q: Are you still in contact with anyone from the Alberta Cup?

A: For sure I am, Tom Keca is one of them for sure, my assistant coach was a guy who was coaching the Brooks Bandits at the time, he’s over in Europe right now, but he sends me a text every once and awhile. Any time you’re coaching in any of those types of events, there’s always bonds, and there’s always people you stay in touch with, and that’s part of the hockey community. It’s a small community as you go along.

Q: Although it was in different years, but with you coaching a goalie in Cam Ward that also took part in the Alberta Cup, do you two ever share those experiences?

A: You know what, we do. We talk about that a little bit, we talk about that the first time I ever saw Wardo play,  he was with the Red Deer Rebels, he was a very good goalie on a very good team.  You always talk about that, and as you go along, it’s amazing how many people you cross paths with either at those events, or they played in the same events you either played in or coached in.

Q: How did your time at the Alberta Cup help you in your development as a coach?

A: Well, that’s what it’s all about, it’s all about developing and finding new ways and opportunities to develop, and the Alberta Cup gives that to both players and coaches. As a coach, you’re always looking for experiences, and you always learn from your experiences and grow, and it’s no different on what I’m going to depart on now (The World Championships in Russia).

Q: Was the Alberta Cup one of, if not the first experience for you as a head coach in short-term competition?

A: Yeah it was, and I thought it served me well. I went on from there to doing the World Under-17 with Team Pacific, and then from there did the Ivan Hlinka Team Canada Under-18 team, and after this World Championship would be two World Championships, and we have the World Cup of Hockey coming up in August and September. It’s been outstanding, and the Alberta Cup and that program is there for coaches to take advantage of the opportunity to improve.

Q: Do you have a favourite memory from the Alberta Cup?

A: I just remember more so the excitement. We had a couple practices with our team, and I just remember the excitement of the guys getting prepared to play in the Alberta Cup. I remember going over in a van, we were in Medicine Hat going to the rink to practice, how excited the guys were to be there and to spend time with each other. A lot of those guys knew each other but weren’t teammates, and for that special opportunity for them to be teammates for a weekend is something I’ll never forget.

Q: Do you have any advice for this year’s coaches and team staff?

A: I think the biggest thing is you have to go in with a plan, make sure as a coach you’re prepared, make sure you’re respectful of your players in the situation, and go in there and it’s all about the players. Obviously it’s an identification process for the Western Hockey League for the Bantam Draft, but also for you as a coach to coach against peers that are like-minded. Everyone’s competitive, but you have to go in there with a healthy attitude and do a good job, make sure you put your players on display, and the rest takes care of itself.

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