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Tim O'Connell New ECHL Assistant Coach

News today that Stockton Thunder head coach Chris Cichocki has settled on who will be his assistant coach. Thunder defenseman Tim O'Connell will take the role, as was speculated earlier this summer by Scott Linesburgh. It's another (albeit minor) example of the Oilers upgrading their front office team- Cichocki has been the head coach since 2005-06 and has never had an assistant before.

O'Connell has had a nice career as an elite ECHL-level defender, and has seen some spot duty in the AHL. Cichocki and Kevin Prendergast had nice words for the new hire today.

Cichocki - "Throughout his playing career, Tim exemplified character, a winning track record, natural knowledge for the game and he commanded respect in a leadership role - those were qualities we were looking for in an assistant coach. His great levels of repoire among his peers make a valuable asset in recruiting and he'll very instrumental in working with our defenseman, who can learn from his experience."

Prendergast - "Tim knows what it takes to get to next level and his experience with Chris Cichocki's system make two valuable qualities in helping players advance in their career. Tim is a proven leader who has valuable on-ice experience, he's played with character over the years and he'll benefit even further by meshing with the Oilers coaching staff in training camp."

The 31-year old defenseman seems like he should be a good fit; he played four years at the University of North Dakota (I'm not sure what he studied) and the fact that he's gritted his way through a fairly long ECHL career is a testament to his character; his return from retirement to the Thunder's lineup in December was largely about providing a mentor for younger players, so he likely played the role of player-coach to some degree already.

At the very worst, he'll be better than no assistant coach.