Well, something had to change in Battle Creek with the way things have gone for the Rumble Bees to start the season, and that came in the form of the team and head coach Clint Hagmaier parting ways after an 0-9 start that saw the team get outscored 59-16, this despite playing eight of their first nine games on home ice.
Rumors about Hagmaier no longer being the coach started to circulate on Sunday following a 9-2 defeat to the Watertown Wolves, and a couple former Battle Creek players messaged BLH early Monday morning to also share that they had heard of Hagmaier’s departure. The Battle Creek Inquirer were the first to confirm the news, which was also shared on the Bees’ website.
Prior to coming to the Rumble Bees, Hagmaier had worked in the front office for the Evansville Thunderbolts of the SPHL, had coaching experience in junior and college hockey, and briefly played in the MAHL, a precursor to the FPHL.
With Hagmaier no longer the man behind the bench, the team’s general manager, Adam Stio, will take over as interim head coach. Stio’s previous coaching experience includes time in the ECHL as an assistant coach.
The Rumble Bees also stated on their website that they have begun a search for a new head coach, and while no names have been leaked on who they are hoping to bring to the team, sources indicated that the team is hoping to hire someone with previous FPHL coaching experience and success.
Honestly, this was a move that had to happen, because things have not gone right for the Rumble Bees on the ice, or in the stands, since day one. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, but when a team starts roughly 90 days before the season gets underway, you’re way behind the 8-ball and in a no-win situation.
And from what we’ve been told by players and people close to the team, Stio and his front office staff have been busting it trying to make things work in Battle Creek, despite the late start and rumors about a number of issues at their home arena that they are dealing with.
That said, when you start the year 0-9, with really only three losses that look respectable on paper, your average defeat is roughly 7-2, and crowds dwindle to the point of Sunday’s game having a sad 103 as the posted attendance, something has to change, and in this case it was Hagmaier.
And with Hagmaier gone, you have to wonder what it means for almost every player on the roster, because let’s be honest, having watch about three games worth of action from the Bees, this is a team that is severely lacking in talent, and with only a couple players producing respectable point totals so far, there is very little job security on the current roster. While there are some pieces to build around in Nathan Margets, Carl Mansson, Ethan Busch-Anderson, Ryan Alves and goalie Jacob Mullen, there will likely be A LOT of jobs up for grabs once Stio starts making changes, or for sure once they find a permanent coach who will definitely want to bring in his guys.
And while all that is happening, the team is hoping to avoid history of the worst sort. According to our research, because there is no known FPHL record or history book, the worst start in FPHL history came when the infamous Steel City Warriors (their own story of how not to run a hockey team) started the season 0-13. And at 0-9 with their next six games on the road, two in Danbury to take on the expansion Hat Tricks, one against Danville, and then a 3-in-3 against the Carolina juggernaut it will be no easy task getting that first win to avoid FPHL infamy.
The shame in all this is that Battle Creek was such a highly sought FPHL market, and this is the product they’re unfortunately stuck with for the time being, which unfortunately can mainly be blamed on the league for a couple reasons. Mainly the addition of a ninth team, which basically required them to add a 10th team, and also because that 10th team took so long to announce.
You really hope that this move is the start of turning things around in Battle Creek, and that they find a way to win a few games on the ice, and win back support from the fans and community to keep the team around long-term.
We’ll keep an eye on this story and keep you updated when the Rumble Bees make an official hire at head coach.