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Kelowna Rockets hire former NHLer Vern Fiddler as assistant coach

Former Kelowna Rocket and NHL journeyman Vern Fiddler has been hired as the Kelowna Rockets' new assistant coach.

A former Kelowna Rocket has joined the team’s coaching ranks.

On Wednesday, the team announced it had hired former NHLer Vern Fiddler as an assistant coach.

In Kelowna, which will host the 2020 Memorial Cup, Fiddler will join head coach and former NHLer Adam Foote on the bench.

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Bruce Hamilton Interview

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“He brings a lot,” Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton said of signing Fiddler. “We’re thrilled to have him join our organization.

“We really wanted to find a forward for our coaching staff. I think it’s great that Fiddler is a former Rocket player. He has some experience working with the Dallas Stars and had a great NHL career.”

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Fiddler, 39, played four seasons in the Western Hockey League, three with Kelowna (1997-2000), before getting traded to the Medicine Hat Tigers. In his time with Kelowna, he appeared in 200 regular-season games, tallying 52 goals and 82 assists for 114 points.

In his last junior season, Fiddler recorded 33 goals and 71 points in 67 games. He also had 100 penalty minutes.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity that Bruce has given me,” said Fiddler. “In 1997, he gave me the chance to play junior hockey, and that’s how I’m looking at this opportunity again.

“It’s kind of like déjà vu for me. I’m really excited to work with Adam Foote and [assistant coach] Kris Mallette on the bench.”

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Fiddler added: “With my experience playing in the American league and the NHL as a solid defensive forward, I think that I’m going to be able to help these young guys with a lot of things.

“Those things are what you need to be good at to make yourself a better player, from the things I’ve learned over the years, and to develop into an NHL player. I think that I can help these young guys.”

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In the NHL, Fiddler played for Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas and New Jersey. In 877 regular-season games, he had 104 goals and 157 assists for 261 points. He retired at the end of the 2016-17 season after helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup final.

Fiddler, 39, was an organizational coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars last season. He assisted with skills and development coaching with Dallas and its AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars.

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“I’m excited for our staff but, more importantly, our players,” said Foote. “In my opinion, from the years I played against Fiddler, I thought he had a really high hockey IQ and I loved how he played with confidence.

“He brings wisdom and years of his experience … our players have not had that in the forward position that can help teach them. I feel we’re very fortunate to have a guy of this level on our team.”