BOISE - The Idaho Steelheads have extended the contract of Head Coach Neil Graham through the end of the 2018-19 season.
“I’ve always felt the support from the organization and I have a great working relationship with everyone, said Graham. To be shown that trust and support from the organization, it means a lot, and obviously something I take a lot of pride in.”
The 32-year-old is the youngest head coach in franchise history and the second-youngest coach in the entire ECHL.
"It's kind of fun to joke around that I'm a young coach... but I'm confident in what I'm doing and I'm confident in the guys that we are bringing in here that we are all getting the job done together," said Graham.
In his first two seasons as head coach, he has led the Steelheads to consecutive Kelly Cup playoff appearances. Graham has led the steelheads to 81 wins in the last two seasons, including 43 this past season, the fifth-most in franchise history in the ECHL era. He's also the first one to say there's plenty of room to grow after being bounced in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs the last two seasons.
"That's what I thought was frustrating for our group was, we really were poised to go on a very deep, very long run. We were as good as anyone, but it didn't happen. We now dust ourselves off here this summer and make a few adjustments where we think we can get better," said Graham.
Graham says one thing the organization is focused on adding this off-season is more physical players that bring an added dimension of toughness.
"For us we need to get a little more tougher. We need to add a little more size, a little more push back. Speed and skill, we are going to increase that and the depth and we are going to add a little more toughness and our plan is to go even further," said Graham.
Graham is preparing for his sixth season with the organization, having served as an assistant with the team from 2012 to 2015.
Graham is preparing for his sixth season with the organization, having served as a player-assistant with the Steelheads in 2012-13 before moving behind the bench as a full-time assistant from 2013 to 2015.
"It truly is home, we feel it, we stay here year-round. I couldn't imagine raising our son in a different place, we are very blessed and fortunate to be here and we are very thankful," said Graham.