The Indy Fuel have announced the re-signing of head coach and VP of Hockey Operations, Bernie John. John served as an assistant coach for the inaugural season before being named interim head coach during the 2015-2016 season. John recently completed his first full season as head coach, a season which saw a 23-42-3-4 record. Last year was inconsistent; at times, the Fuel could beat anyone and other times, the entire program looked close to coming entirely derailed. A large problem last season was a short-handed defense, something John, a former defenseman throughout the pro ranks in his own career, will look to address. Also announced was the addition of a full-time assistant coach, an adjustment that should take some of the workload off John, as he basically served as GM, coach and scout last year. The Fuel finished the season well, including an 8-5-2 record over their final 15 games that saw increased scoring compared to a slump earlier in the season.
Going into his second full season as head coach, look for John to build a core of players to carry the load for next season. Alex Wideman, Josh Shalla, Michael Neal, Matt Rupert, Woody Hudson, Zach Miskovic and others should be high priorities for the team this offseason, as the Fuel will submit their protected list June 1 and begin signing players June 16. Following NHL and AHL training camps, we will have a better idea what the roster looks like also, as prospects from within the Blackhawks organization will be assigned. Stay tuned to Blue HQ, as we have plans to bring you in-depth interviews and analyses of the Fuel all offseason.