Milan Dragicevic joins Richmond Minor as director of hockey development

They already work closely as chief instructors at the Pacific Elite Hockey School and now Milan Dragicevic and Glenn Wheeler are teaming up again.

Dragicevic this week was hired as director of hockey development for the Richmond Minor Hockey Association, at which Wheeler is director of player and coach development. Under the new arrangement, Dragicevic will focus on working with the coaches leaving Wheeler more time for player development.

"It is all about development on and off the ice to enhance the brand of Richmond Minor and Richmond a desired place for coaches and players," said Dragicevic, who brings a wealth of hockey experience to the job.

Until this March when he was let go, the 43-year-old Richmond resident was head coach of the University of B.C. Thunderbirds men's program. He first became bench boss in 2002, after serving in the same capacity for the Vancouver Giants during their first two seasons in the Western Hockey League. He began his coaching career in 1995 as an assistant for the Tri-City Americans and between 1986 and 1990 played defence for five WHL teams including Tri-City, New Westminster, Regina, Spokane and Victoria. He holds a degree in management from Acadia University which, as a player, he helped win the national university title in 1993.

Dragicevic was also head coach of Team Canada for the World University Games in 2009 in Harbin, China.

"Our coach and player development just got enhanced 100 per cent," said an elated Richmond Minor president Ron Thorpe. "We tried to go with one person (Wheeler) overseeing the development but we stretched him really thin. It was unfortunate for Milan to lose his position at UBC but fabulous timing for us. We now have two guys who already work well together and this will mean even more concentrated development for our coaches and players."

Thorpe said although player and coach development is the second biggest expense behind ice rentals, registration fees will not increase as a result of Dragicevic's hiring. He also stressed that every player and coach will be able to benefit.

"Our mandate is to help every player become better," Thorpe said. "Right now every player has a maximum one development session per week, and we're aiming now to get the coaching to a higher level so they can pass down what they are learning to the players."

Thorpe wouldn't speculate on how Dragicevic's presence might impact registration, but hoped numbers would increase as a result. Last season, there were about 530 players registered in the Richmond Minor Hockey Association.

"We're not doing this with the hope of increasing our numbers, we're doing it to further develop our players," he said.


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