In His Element
Newest Head Coach for Stingers Hockey Team Returns to His Roots
In the midst of their rebranding, the Concordia Stingers have stressed one very important theme—family. In the last 18 months, the Stingers have made changes to their athletic programs by hiring former Stingers to lead the way—the Donovan brothers for the football team, Rastko Popovic for men’s basketball, and now interim men’s hockey head coach Marc-André Element.
After longtime coach Kevin Figsby left the team to pursue a new position with Hockey Canada in late July, the Stingers were left to fill a hole at head coach. But it didn’t take long to find a replacement.
“We had to find someone who was willing, who had the capability of coming in and certainly the short notice availability and interest in coming in,” said Patrick Boivin, the Athletics director of the Stingers.
Element was a winger for the Stingers for five seasons from 2006 to 2011, where he was once awarded the prestigious Guy Lafleur Award of Merit for proficiency in athletic and academic ability. Soon after retiring as a player, Element took a position as an assistant coach with the Stingers for two years. He also played a key part in recruiting players to the program.
“[Marc had] been assistant coach for us for a number of years,” said Boivin. “He obviously knew the team really well, so for us, with all those factors behind it, made it a pretty easy decision.”
Boivin added that Element had already been helping former head coach Kevin Figsby with recruiting.
The new bench boss couldn’t help but jump at the head coaching opportunity once it became vacant.
“When [Boivin asked] me if I wanted to join Concordia as the interim coach I jumped on it right away,” Element said. “This is where I played, this is where I went to university, this is where I graduated from, and I met my wife here. I’m happy to be back home.”
Element left other opportunities to go home and join the Stingers as he was offered the head coaching position with the Lachine Maroons—now called the Gatineau Flames—in the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League.
“I was coaching junior AAA and I had to tell them that I was leaving to come here,” Element said.
Despite being given the interim tag, with no guarantees that he’ll be returning with the team for next season, Element is committed to his new position with the team, and is already at work bringing in recruits for the program.
“I’m here to do my job. I’m here to coach and to bring a good team on the ice,” Element said.
“This is where I played, this is where I graduated from and I met my wife here. I’m happy to be home.” —Marc-André Element
“It’s going to be a hard training camp, a lot of players are going to be here,” he added. “It’s going to be good challenge for some guys, but it will also bring some competition to the team.”
Element also raved about leading scorer and team captain Olivier Hinse, a recent winner of both the Guy Lafleur Award and the Dr. Randy Gregg Award, awarded to the player who best exemplifies excellence in hockey, academics and community service.
“I know Olivier pretty well. He’s a good player but he’s also a good person and I think when you’re a head coach you want to have a captain like that,” Element said. “You want somebody that’s going to show up every day.”
As the Stingers gear up for training camp and the upcoming season, Element understands the team is transitioning. With the last playoff series victory being in 2001, Element hopes that he can use his previous coaching experience to bring a different approach to the team, and that the team will improve throughout the season and prepare for a playoff run.
“I learned a lot last year coaching junior AAA and I’m going to bring all the knowledge that I got last year here at Concordia,” said Element.
“I think this year we’ll have a good team, not only on the ice […] We’ll be one family, one team, so it’s going to be fun I’m really excited about the challenge.”