Comet Tales: The Coach Behind the Scenes

by Don Laible

Jul 15, 2015

It takes a team, both on and off the ice, for the Comets to succeed. Clinton native Josh Gagnon, as team’s video coach, plays a role in that success.

During games, when the rest of Travis Green’s coaching mans the bench, Josh Gagnon is an unseen and unnoticed component. And with good reason. As the video coach most of Gagnon’s work is executed in the lower bowl of The AUD, specifically in the coach’s office. In the office he is responsible for charting the game on a computer so that in between periods the coaching staff can make in-game adjustments, quickly. gagnon_josh

For Gagnon, a graduate of SUNY Oswego, being part of the team is exciting. Progressing his career in hockey, just as the rest of the Comets’ staff and players, motivates Gagnon. Having another local within the organization do well speaks volumes of the talent that the Mohawk Valley produces.

Getting that first opportunity to prove yourself isn’t always easy. When that break does present itself, people like Gagnon have a way of not disappointing.

“I received a call that the team was looking for a video coach,” says Gagnon, who was an assistant coach for the MVCC hockey team. “I interviewed for the job, and was hired.”

Many coaches transfer their passion for the game to a teaching role after hanging up the skates themselves. Gagnon, as a rookie with the Comets last season, tells of what he remembers as being tested. “I think they (the coaching staff) saw that I had a grasp for the game,” said the Clinton native. “It was somewhat intimidating at first, but they were welcoming. Travis, Paul, and Nolan are well respected.”

Finding his way after he played hockey for MVCC and SUNY Oswego, Gagnon knew that he wanted to give coaching a try. Using his knowledge of the game, Gagnon labels his transition as video coach “unexpectedly smooth.”

To get a grasp on what he, and others with the title of video coach do, Gagnon supplies a short-list. Quite simply – identifying situations. Having been given additional responsibilities this season from Green, Gagnon sums up his role as basically tracking everything that takes place on the ice – period.

On game nights Gagnon is in The AUD by 4:30pm. Setting up the video feed for his fellow coaches is priority one. XoS is a computerized, hockey driven program, with other applications, is the program Gagnon and most coaches use. The results are stored in a server that is easily accessible to the entire coaching staff.

Scouting the visiting team’s pre-game warm-up at the stage end of The AUD, standing alongside Jerrard and Baumgartner is another given for Gagnon. After warm-ups, the line-ups are set in the computer. “Using the program, I can log every event that happens,” Gagnon tells. “Scoring chances, faceoffs, hits, everything. Then, these stats get fed to the coaches. You get to know what’s trending.”

Gagnon, 28, is ecstatic to be a part of the hometown organization. After each period, Gagnon uploads what he has captured to Vancouver so the parent club’s personnel can be instantly connected to their developing players.

During the team’s first two seasons, he made every road trip within New York state, as well as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season. Gagnon added Chicago, Grand Rapids, Oklahoma City, and Manchester to his travel itinerary during the Calder Cup Playoffs.

“It was definitely emotional starting out on the road,” Gagnon said, just after exiting a coaching staff meeting in Chicago.

Upon joining the Comets last fall, Gagnon’s future in hockey became clearer than at any prior time. Coaching on the professional level is the direction he has chosen. Honing his skills with a “great group”, as Gagnon labels the team, is now two years in. Serving the Comets remains a work in progress, one which Gagnon hopes will one day take him to the next level.

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