Photo by Jeff Bell – Ultiphotos.com

With new Coaches and a rookie heavy roster, the Nighthawks look to turn a new page for the franchise when the travel to San Francisco this Saturday for MLU’s 2016 Opening Day.

The 2016 offseason has been an active and transformative one for the Vancouver Nighthawks organization.  After representing the Western Conference in the 2014 MLU Championship, the Nighthawks struggled in 2015, finishing the season with a 3-7 record.  After the disappointing season, the Nighthawks parted ways with several prominent players, as well as their Head Coach and Front Office staff.

The 2016 Nighthawks look to get back on top of the West, and have handed the reigns to Patrick Gatien, the team’s new Head Coach.

A veteran player in the Vancouver area, Gatien lead many of the Nighthawks on the field as a captain for the club team Blackfish.

“I always loved being lead by Pat. He is easily the best spoken leader I have ever had.” said Nighthawk veteran Erik Hunter. “I remember when I was a rookie on Blackfish and Gats was a captain. I think I loved his balance. He has a way of being intense and getting those around him to get there as well that isn’t negative but it is direct and gets an immediate response. I learned a lot from him on how to lead and be a coach.”

“He is an excellent communicator. He can say more in a sentence than most people can say in a paragraph.” said Nighthawk rookie Graeme Barber, another former teammate of Gatien. “He has high expectations and challenges you to meet those expectations. He is straight to the point and will tell you what he wants.”

Joining Gatien on his coaching staff are Derek Knoechel and Chris Cannon.

“Derek bring many years of high-level club experience on both the Open and Co-Ed side of things.” said Gatien. “He has a great mind for Xs and Os and sees gameplans in a different light than most. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the larger MLU playing surface. His mind has been racing since he was first approached about joining the Nighthawks organization.”

“Chris brings knowledge of the MLU game as he has been with the Nighthawks organization since its inception.” said Gatien. “He and Derek will be able to work out what systems complement our players and the MLU playing surface. Besides that, Chris brings many years of coaching/captaining and has worked with many of the younger players on the roster. He’ll continue to mentor them and help them realize their potential.”

Heading into the Nighthawk’s Season Opener on the road against the San Francisco Dogfish, another team that has seen major overhaul during the offseason, Gatien and his staff look to take a first step to building the new team identity.

“I think we’re going to see some conservative plays since this is the first game of the year and both teams have made significant personnel changes.” said the coach. “Players will think twice about certain plays/throws before they start to get comfortable with the flow.”

With 20 rookies on the roster, Gatien will rely on the team’s 10 veterans to get the young talent up to speed.  The Nighthawks will look to returning veterans like Nathan Lam, a rookie himself in 2015 and Hunter, who played for the team in 2013, as well as promising rookies like Barber and Jazz Groden-Gilchrist.

See Gatien and his staff lead the Nighthawks in action at their Season Opener against the Portland Stags at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium on April 16th at 6pm.

Grab your 2016 Vancouver Nighthawks Season Tickets, here.

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