FINAL
Fri. Oct 10
2 IOW
3 SAN
FINAL
Sat. Oct 11
2 OKC
3 SAN
FINAL
Fri. Oct 17
3 UTI
0 SAN
FINAL
Sat. Oct 18
5 SAN
4 OKC
FINAL
Fri. Oct 24
2 SAN
5 UTI
FINAL
Sat. Oct 25
4 SAN
2 HAM
Sun. Oct 26
2:00 PM
SAN
HAM
Wed. Oct 29
6:00 PM
SAN
ADK
Fri. Oct 31
7:30 PM
RFD
SAN
Sat. Nov 01
7:00 PM
RFD
SAN
Fri. Nov 07
7:30 PM
TOR
SAN
Sun. Nov 09
4:00 PM
OKC
SAN
Tue. Nov 11
10:35 AM
SAN
OKC
Fri. Nov 14
7:30 PM
CHA
SAN
Sat. Nov 15
7:00 PM
CHA
SAN
Tue. Nov 18
10:30 AM
OKC
SAN
Fri. Nov 21
7:30 PM
SAN
TEX
Sun. Nov 23
4:00 PM
TEX
SAN
Sat. Nov 29
7:00 PM
OKC
SAN
Sun. Nov 30
4:00 PM
IOW
SAN
Fri. Dec 05
7:30 PM
UTI
SAN
Sun. Dec 07
4:00 PM
CHI
SAN
Tue. Dec 09
7:00 PM
CHI
SAN
Thu. Dec 11
7:00 PM
SAN
IOW
Fri. Dec 12
7:00 PM
SAN
IOW
Fri. Dec 19
7:00 PM
SAN
CHA
Sun. Dec 21
1:00 PM
SAN
CHA
Fri. Dec 26
7:30 PM
TEX
SAN
Sat. Dec 27
7:00 PM
OKC
SAN
Sun. Dec 28
5:00 PM
SAN
TEX
Thu. Jan 01
3:00 PM
SAN
UTI
Fri. Jan 02
7:00 PM
SAN
TOR
Sat. Jan 03
3:00 PM
SAN
TOR
Tue. Jan 06
7:00 PM
SAN
ADK
Wed. Jan 07
7:05 PM
SAN
ROC
Sat. Jan 10
7:00 PM
IOW
SAN
Sun. Jan 11
4:00 PM
TOR
SAN
Sat. Jan 17
7:00 PM
ROC
SAN
Tue. Jan 20
7:00 PM
TEX
SAN
Thu. Jan 22
7:00 PM
SAN
LEM
Sat. Jan 24
7:00 PM
SAN
LEM
Thu. Jan 29
7:30 PM
SAN
TEX
Fri. Jan 30
7:30 PM
CHA
SAN
Tue. Feb 03
7:30 PM
SAN
TEX
Thu. Feb 05
7:00 PM
TEX
SAN
Sat. Feb 07
7:00 PM
OKC
SAN
Tue. Feb 10
7:30 PM
SAN
TEX
Fri. Feb 13
7:00 PM
SAN
GRA
Sat. Feb 14
7:00 PM
SAN
GRA
Sun. Feb 15
4:00 PM
SAN
RFD
Wed. Feb 18
10:30 AM
SAN
RFD
Sat. Feb 21
7:00 PM
SAN
CHI
Sun. Feb 22
3:00 PM
SAN
CHI
Fri. Feb 27
7:00 PM
SAN
OKC
Sat. Feb 28
7:00 PM
SAN
OKC
Wed. Mar 04
7:00 PM
SAN
CHA
Thu. Mar 05
7:00 PM
SAN
CHA
Wed. Mar 11
7:00 PM
MIL
SAN
Fri. Mar 13
7:30 PM
LEM
SAN
Sat. Mar 14
7:00 PM
LEM
SAN
Tue. Mar 17
7:00 PM
CHA
SAN
Fri. Mar 20
7:00 PM
SAN
OKC
Sat. Mar 21
7:00 PM
HAM
SAN
Sun. Mar 22
4:00 PM
HAM
SAN
Wed. Mar 25
7:00 PM
SAN
MIL
Fri. Mar 27
7:00 PM
SAN
IOW
Sat. Mar 28
12:30 PM
SAN
IOW
Sat. Apr 04
7:00 PM
ADK
SAN
Tue. Apr 07
7:00 PM
SAN
OKC
Fri. Apr 10
7:30 PM
GRA
SAN
Tue. Apr 14
7:00 PM
TEX
SAN
Fri. Apr 17
7:30 PM
TEX
SAN
Sat. Apr 18
7:00 PM
SAN
TEX

The Surprising Journey From Rugged Forward To Winning Coach

His dream was to be a player. His destiny was to be a coach. Ray Edwards learned that ice hockey truth one tough and wonderful break at a time.

The new head coach of the San Antonio Rampage grew up in hockey-crazed Canada, attended NHL training camps with Los Angeles, Chicago and Ottawa and imagined a long playing career on ice. But minor league injuries ravaged his body, no one offered an NHL contract, and at age 28, an unexpected door swung open.

"Hey Ray," an East Coast Hockey League official asked, "How’d you like to coach?"

At the time, Edwards was hoping to play in Europe. Yes, he was banged up – bad back, aching shoulder, torn ligaments in his left hand – and no, he wasn’t getting any younger. But Edwards was coming off his best year and thought he had something left.

The competitive part of him wanted to play. But pragmatism prevailed. He dropped the gloves, grabbed a whistle and became one of the youngest coaches in professional hockey. In his second year, he led the Huntington (W. Va.) Blizzard to its best season ever with a 35-25-10 record.

"When I saw players succeed and reach their dreams," he says, "it was like a drug. I thought, ‘Maybe this is what I should be doing.’"

As a rugged right wing, Edwards knew how to knock guys around. As a coach, he knew how to finesse and motivate. The transition, he discovered, was nearly seamless, as if he’d been designed for the job from birth.

Now here he is, at the helm again, trying to lead the Rampage to their first playoff appearance since 2007-08 when he joined the team as an assistant coach.

"He’s a guy I’d love to play for, a guy you can believe in and trust," says Rampage General Manager and Phoenix Coyotes Assistant GM Brad Treliving. "He demands a lot from his players, but there’s a real buy-in from the players. They enjoy playing for him."

Treliving knows Edwards better than most, the two sharing a history that dates back to their days in the ECHL. A former defenseman with the Columbus Chill, Treliving recalls colliding with Edwards, then a forward with the Dayton Bombers. "When I was going back to get a puck," Treliving says, "Ray was knocking me into the boards."

The two clubs were fierce, physical rivals, unafraid to mix it up.

"We never fought," Edwards says of Treliving. "But there weren’t many nights when I didn’t get out of Columbus without dropping the gloves at least once."

Edwards’ willingness to take on bigger players, to protect his teammates and inspire his club, impressed Treliving. Edwards made another impression later, first as a player-assistant, then as an interim coach in Huntington. He recruited and signed players to contracts, marketed the team and sold tickets. Promoter by day, player by night, Edwards did everything but hock popcorn and soda. "It was crazy," he says. "But it was a great training ground for life."

It wasn’t unusual to see a player-assistant in the ECHL. It was rare, however, to see a player serve as interim coach and marketer. In the morning, Edwards arrived with a briefcase and players broke into laughter. In the afternoon, he’d accompany a sales rep on a visit to prospective ticket holders or make cold calls from the office.

No, this wasn’t the dream he nurtured while growing up in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. But he liked the work, his wife seemed happy and it sure beat the alternative: unemployment.

"I didn’t go to college," Edwards says. "I didn’t have a degree to fall back on. And I really enjoyed the business of hockey."

The results showed. When Treliving became president of the Central Hockey League and the San Angelo Saints needed a coach, he suggested an old rival. Edwards led the Saints to a 35-point turnaround and the Southwest Division title in his first season and was named Coach of the Year.

One day, he’s grinding out a living in gloves. Then suddenly, he’s a miracle-working coach. For an encore, Edwards led the Saints to another playoff appearance, and later guided the New Mexico Scorpions to the CHL Conference Finals in 2006-07.

The Rampage noticed, Edwards arrived as an assistant, and two years later became interim head coach. Under his leadership, the Rampage finished 30-23-3-6 last season and tied the Hershey Bears for the best power-play percentage in the American Hockey League at 20.7 percent. Nice start. Now for the next step -- the postseason.

“In a performance-based business, the playoffs are where you are judged,” Edwards says, and the mix of returning talent and promising newcomers provide ample hope.

Looking back, the pounding he took all those years pointed to a future beyond slapshots and body checks. As the body fell apart, other pieces came together. Once a broken jigsaw, he’s now a completed puzzle ... with a dream.

Edwards would like to go to college. Maybe he’ll study business, but he’s more likely to pursue something close to his heart: psychology. The desire isn’t to correct a long-ago decision. It’s to enhance today’s calling. He never made the NHL as a player. But he’d sure like to make it as a coach.
Written by Ken Rodriguez and originally appearing on spurs.com on Wednesday, August 4, 2010.

Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His Spurs.com column will appear every Wednesday.

>>Contact Ken Rodriguez

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