Plagued by concussions through junior career, and eventually seeing his playing career shelved, Brad Yetman turns to coaching and lands QMJHL job
Brad Yetman felt “alive again,” experiencing all the joys that came with playing hockey in the Canadian collegiate ranks.
It was 2012, and Yetman was a Dalhousie Tiger, savouring university life and, perhaps just as importantly, relishing the chance to skate again in a meaningful hockey game.
He had sat out the previous season, recovering from a series of concussions that had plagued him through four years in the Quebec major junior circuit.
And so, here it was in Halifax, where Yetman was soaking up the college game, that the news came like an open-ice hit: he was being shelved again.
Only this time the news was worse.
“I’d seen a neurologist,” Yetman recalls, “and he put the X on me, so to speak.”
Xed out. Done. Just like that. At 21.
The scholarships Yetman had landed at Dal were revoked. The jersey all but hauled off his back.
So he returned home to Mount Pearl, and enrolled at Memorial University, putting to use his Canadian Hockey League money teams set aside for players looking to attend post-secondary schools after junior hockey.
It was a trying time for Yetman, and to scratch the hockey itch, started coaching.
And you know what? He liked it. A lot.
Now, six years after he thought his hockey career was done, Yetman is back in the game, and it could be argued, in a better position than ever before.
He is the new assistant coach with the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, the same Huskies squad that won the Memorial Cup last season.
He replaces Marc-Andre Bourdon, who was bumped up to the duel position of head scout and assistant general manager.
“It’s been my goal to be (coaching) in major junior by the time I was 30,” he said, “and I turned 28 in May. So it’s awesome to get this opportunity.”
Yetman arrived in the northern Quebec town of Rouyn-Noranda this week, in time for the opening of training camp this past Wednesday.
He’ll be working primarily with the defencemen, and doing some video work.
And he’s in familiar territory, having spent parts of two seasons in Rouyn as a player in the mid-2000s.
Hockey, of course, is a who-you-know business and it’s easy to connect the dots with Yetman’s hiring. Mario Pouliot, fresh off back-to-back Memorial Cup championships with the Huskies and Acadie-Bathurst Titans in 2017-18, coached Yetman during the latter’s time in Rouyn.
“We connected, he asked if I’d be interested and I said, ‘Yes, for sure.’ And within a span of a week and a half, we’d connected, had an interview, contract offered, contract signed.
“We went through exactly what the role was, and what his expectations were. It was too good of an opportunity to pass, to be a major junior defence coach.”
Breaking into the ‘Q’ ranks with the Shawinigan Cataractes, and later toiling for Rouyn-Noranda and the P.E.I. Rocket, coaching was not something on Yetman’s radar.
That was until after his final season of junior hockey — before he went to Dal — when he helped serve as an assistant with the major midget’s St. John’s Maple Leafs.
After Dalhousie, when he was sidelined from playing for good, Yetman took over the Northeast Eagles senior hockey coaching reigns in 2015-16. The next year, he worked as an assistant for the East Coast Blizzard major midget team, and the last two years ran the Blizzard bench.
“And now,” he says, “here I am.
“Moving up has been something I’ve been trying to do for a couple of years now,” he said. “But this particular opportunity fell right into my lap.
“I’ll do the mental skills stuff (he just completed his masters degree in psychology at Memorial University) and work on skill development,” he said.
“And I’ll be learning from Mario, who’s had great success over the past couple of years, in a place where I played and with which I’m familiar.
“It’s a home run situation.”
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort