Nick Vitucci steps down as Walleye head coach
Toledo Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci is stepping down from the position he has held for almost five years. He has given his resignation, which is effective immediately, to team President and General Manager Joe Napoli.
“I have enjoyed my time coaching the Walleye,” Vitucci said. “It has been extremely fulfilling to start a new team and to mentor young hockey players who have a passion for the game, but I feel that it’s time for some new leadership and a new approach. This will always be a highlight in my career.”
“Nick has been a valuable team builder, mentor and colleague,” Napoli said. “I have been honored to work with him as head coach in developing the Toledo Walleye. But he’s ready to try other options and I – we – support him in his decision. Nick’s decision to make this move now, gives us the appropriate window to find a coaching replacement in time for recruiting and preparing for next season. I am happy to say that he will remain with the Walleye organization. His future role, which is yet to be finalized, will capitalize on his nearly 25 years of professional hockey experience.”
Toledo Walleye Assistant Coach Dan Watson, will assume the coaching position for the remainder of the season. He has been with the Toledo Walleye since its inception.
(UPDATE: Quotes from Tuesday afternoon's press conference)
- Nick Vitucci, on decision to step down as head coach: We’ve (Joe Napoli) been talking about it for the past couple of weeks. We (the team) have been struggling to find the right path. The organization deserves more than what we’ve given them. I believe in this organization and what it stands for and if stepping down is the best thing, that’s what I want to do.
- Vitucci, on Dan Watson taking over as head coach: Dan Watson is more than prepared to lead the team. Until my new role is totally defined, I will do whatever I can do to help Dan succeed.
- Vitucci, on his future: I am really excited about what lies ahead. When I first came to this decision, I had a heavy heart. But as the days went by my heart has become lighter and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming challenges.
- Dan Watson, on his coaching philosophy: I have a little bit different philosophy. Every coach who takes the lead comes in with a little different philosophy. I come from the defensive side. I want a strong defensive team that also plays fast.