SIOUX CITY | Luke Strand is happy to be back and Sioux City and ready to build on the success the Musketeers have enjoyed in recent seasons.
Strand was officially introduced at the Tyson Events Center as the sixth head coach for the Musketeers since 2000 on Wednesday.
"It is just great to be back here because the City of Sioux City is just a good spot for me," said Strand at a press conference. "I don't know if I ever left in a lot of ways with regard to the team and everything going on around it."
He has plenty of familiarity with the area and the team having worked officially with the Musketeers on two other occasions. A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Strand didn't have a losing record in either of his two seasons with the Musketeers that began in 2009. He also had a short stint as the team’s general manager in 2013-14.
Strand had a 58-47-15 two-year mark with the Musketeers including a 2011 Clark Cup Playoff berth.
Strand replaces Jay Varady, who was recently named the head coach of the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs. Varady amassed a total record of 136-88-10 leading the team to a Clark Cup Final appearance last season, two Western conference Final appearances and two Western Conference Championships.
“We are here to win, succeed and move players on,” Strand said.
Stand said he has a “pretty blank canvas” when it comes to his current coaching staff as the Musketeers have lost their director of scouting, equipment manager, strength coach and trainer since the end of the season to other jobs.
While that makes his job a little tougher initially, it is what he wants the organization to be about. Have success and move players and individuals up.
Strand will also have a roster with plenty of new faces after a veteran squad led Sioux City to the Anderson Cup this past season. Goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks signed a contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets and both Eeli Tolvanen and Matt Hellickson were chosen in the NHL Draft, Tolvanen a first-round pick by Nashville.
“It is a skating lineup that can move and get around the rink which is exciting,” said Strand of the current team. “Now it is getting the other pieces.”
Strand feels he is a different and better coach since his first time on the bench with the Musketeers.
“Those experiences since leaving here, (I) built a team in Madison, coached Division I hockey, last year working with the (Calgary) Flames in both the scouting and player development department,” he said. “At the end of the day you want the people around you to be successful.”
The Musketeers have their home opener for the 2017-18 season Oct. 14 against Sioux Falls.