After 13 years with the organization, a familiar face returned to Windsor on the opposite side.
On Oct. 5 Warren Rychel returned to Windsor behind the bench of the Barrie Colts. This marked the first time Rychel had returned to the WFCU hallways as a member of the opposite team. It wasn’t time for Rychel to catch up with the organization however, as Rychel was focused on the game itself instead of his return.
“I saw Trevor [Letowski] a couple of days ago but it was all business today and they [Spitfires] were too,” said Rychel.
The Spitfires would go on to win in the shootout 4-3, being backstopped by the play of Kari Piironen who would stop 37 of the 39 shots he faced. Following the game Spits Head Coach Trevor Letowski said that this game meant a little more.
“Yeah it’s a big game, I mean you have a relationship with Warren, everybody does,” said Letowski. “Obviously for me, I know him well. I know it means a lot for him and I’m sure he’ll tell you the same thing. He really wanted this one badly and that makes us want it badly too.”
Letowski also said that it was a weird feeling seeing Rychel on the other bench after years of working together. But like Rychel tried to keep everyone focused on the game.
“It certainly felt different, seeing him over there and stuff but as a coach, I went out of my way to make sure that it wasn’t an issue,” said Letowski. “I wanted our players to focus on our team, it’s not about Warren, it’s not about me. It is never about the coaches, they [the players] win the games and they lose them.”
Rychel said that while it was all business there were definitely nerves about playing his former team. Before the game started Rychel was honoured by the Spitfires with a video tribute and a standing ovation from the fans.
“It was really nice, just on that note it was awesome, I want to thank the ownership group,” said Rychel. “I think my guys really appreciated it, I know my guys really wanted to win for me.”
From 2006 to 2019 Rychel helped build one of the more consistent hockey teams within the OHL. Winning three Memorial Cups [2009,2010,2017] and two J. Ross Robertson Cups [2009,2010] during his tenure.
He also helped play a part in acquiring several star players to help lead his team including Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, and Michael DiPietro.
One of Rychel’s new players is Brandt Clarke, the fourth overall pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Since joining Barrie Clarke said he has nothing but good things to say about Rychel as a coach.
“He’s been great, you guys probably see him on the bench he is a bit of a screamer but behind the scenes and in the dressing room he is just a great guy, said, Clarke. “He came in at a relatively hard time because of the Dale situation. We are all hoping for the best for Dale but Warrens’s done a great job with what he has had so far.”
After Rychel announced his departure from the team in the summer many people expected him to make the jump to the NHL. However, Rychel said while that didn’t happen he is loving the experience he is gaining from behind the bench.
“I wish could have maybe did this five years ago but you know what I like it. I love going to the rink, I love working with kids, that is what I do. I’m a good people person and that’s going to make me a good coach,” said Rychel.
It will remain to be seen if Rychel moves on to the NHL level however as of right now Rychel seems to be enjoying his time behind the bench and using this as a learning experience.
“I’m learning every day from all my friends in the NHL and the American League. My guys are buying in, I’m trying to bring a little Western Conference to the Eastern Conference,” said Rychel.