Belfast Giants name Steve Thornton as new coach
Last updated on .From the section Ice hockey
Steve Thornton is back as Belfast Giants coach after being announced as Paul Adey's successor on Monday night.
The Canadian won three trophies during his first spell at the Odyssey before stepping down in 2010.
"I have missed this place and this team since the day I left - I am very excited to be back and I plan on being here for a long time," said Thornton.
Adey left the Giants earlier this month after guiding the team to the Elite League title.
He departed after failing to come to an agreement with general manager Todd Kelman for next season.
Thornton led the Giants for two seasons, winning the British Knock Out Cup and Challenge Cup in 2009 before a Play-off Championship triumph the following year.
The 41-year-old originally came to Belfast for the second half of the 2002-03 season as a player.
He was hired by Kelman in the spring of 2008 to take over from Ed Courtenay, and left after two seasons to pursue a career outside of ice hockey.
"I loved my time in Belfast and so did my family. Working for the Belfast Giants is very special, unlike any other hockey team," added Thornton.
Kelman is delighted to bring Thornton back to the Odyssey.
He said: "I am really looking forward to having him back with the Giants. This is more than just a coaching job and Steve gets that.
"This is not a one year contract to coach a hockey team. Steve is moving his family and his whole life here to take up a permanent role within our organisation.
"His role encompasses overseeing the hockey side of our business and the coaching of the team, but he will also be tasked with building links and developing our junior ice hockey in Northern Ireland."
Meanwhile, the Giants have also announced that defenceman Calvin Elfring will be back in Belfast for another season.
He scored 13 goals and added 37 assists for 50 points in his first year as a Giant and was selected by the the fans as Defenceman of the Year.
"It was a no-brainer for us to sign back Calvin for another year," said new coach Thornton.
"Todd and I have been consulting on players for the last couple of weeks, and both of us had Elfring as a 'must sign' on our list.
"He does it all - he can lead the rush, he is strong in his own end, he skates well and he is great on the powerplay. I am pleased to have him back for next season."