The city’s new professional hockey team on Tuesday announced the hiring of a veteran head coach who has experience building a minor-league franchise.
The Indy Fuel, which begins its first season in October, said it signed Scott Hillman, 40, to a two-year renewable contract. He will join the club in June as the team builds its first roster.
Hillman had been head coach and director of player operations for the Missouri Mavericks for the past five years. He has been with the Central Hockey League team in Independence, Mo., since its inception in 2009.
“Coach Hillman is a rising star in professional hockey,” Indy Fuel President Sean Hallett said in a prepared statement. “His experience coaching a new franchise to immediate success and his commitment to building a winning culture make him the perfect fit as the Fuel’s head coach.”
The Mavericks qualified for the playoffs every season and compiled a .607 winning percentage under Hillman.
“[Hillman’s] dedication to making this team a standout in the league was evident every season, and the sacrifices he made every day to push our players to be their best will not be forgotten,” Mavericks President Thiessen told The Kansas City Star after the coach resigned last week.
Hillman previously was head coach for the Knoxville (Tenn.) Ice Bears of the Southern Professional Hockey League , where he led the team to two consecutive championships and was named the SPHL Coach of the Year in 2008-09.
He played nine seasons of professional hockey and was four-time CHL all-star.
The Fuel will play in the ECHL (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League), the premier “AA” league serving as a pipeline to the National Hockey League.
“Indianapolis is known as a great sports city, and this community has been waiting for professional hockey to return for way too long,” Hillman said in a prepared statement. “As the coach, my goal is to create an environment that allows the young men on our roster to grow as players and people – our staff will give them every opportunity to excel and give our fans a disciplined, hard-working team that they can be proud of on and off the ice.”
The Fuel signed a five-year affiliation agreement with the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks earlier this year. The team will play home games in the renovated Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum.