York University Lions men’s hockey head coach Chris Dennis announced on Friday (Aug. 14) that Russ Herrington and Jesse Messier will join his coaching staff as assistants this season.
Herrington brings with him more than 20 years of coaching experience and was a former varsity athlete himself with the Western Mustangs. Messier will return to the Lions for the first time since 2014, when he finished a five-year career as one of the top players the program has ever produced.
“I am thrilled to be adding Russ and Jesse to our coaching staff,” said Dennis. “Russ brings great experience as both a player and coach, and he has a great work ethic and amazing attention to detail that will be invaluable to us as we move forward as a program.
“Jesse has a very high hockey IQ and a tremendous amount of character. He has been well-coached over his career and I look forward to his insights. I am very happy Jesse has chosen to begin what I’m sure will be a long coaching career with the York Lions.”
Herrington spent 12 seasons as a Junior A head coach in Thornhill, Markham and Streetsville, Ont. He won more than 300 games in that span, was a two-time all-star coach and the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) coach of the year in 2003. He guided the Markham Waxers to the 2003 OJHL South Division championship, the team’s first division title in 20 years, and reached the 2006 RBC Cup with the Streetsville Derbys.
He was also an AAA head coach for eight years with the York Simcoe Express and the South Central Coyotes, and throughout his coaching career has seen more than 100 players graduate to the OHL, CIS, NCAA and professional ranks.
As a player, Herrington spent four seasons with the Mustangs (1990-93) and went on to a free agent tryout with the Toronto Maple Leafs and spent one season with the South Carolina Stingrays in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). He and his wife, Janice, have a son, Griffin, and a daughter, Regan, who will be a varsity athlete with the women’s volleyball team at Acadia University beginning this fall.
“I am incredibly honoured and excited to be joining the York Lions, a program steeped with a history of excellence,” said Herrington. “Having played OUA hockey myself, I know firsthand what a terrific league it is, and this has been a goal of mine to one day coach in the league. I appreciate the opportunity presented to me by Chris and the administration at York, and look forward to helping the players achieve their goals on the ice and in the classroom.”
Messier had a tremendous career with the Lions, finishing his five years ranked 10th all-time in program scoring, with 129 points in 133 games played. The team captain for three years, he was an OUA West all-star in 2012, a member of the OUA West all-rookie team in 2010 and he led the Lions in scoring in each of his final three seasons.
After finishing with the Lions in 2014, he signed a professional contract with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL and spent last season with the Allen Americans, winning the ECHL championship.
“I am thrilled to be coming back to the York Lions program in this new role and I look forward to working as a part of this coaching staff,” said Messier. “I hope to learn from the opportunity I have been given, but mostly to share my knowledge of the game and experiences as a past student-athlete with these current Lions.”
Herrington and Messier will coach their first game with the Lions alongside Dennis, also in his first year with the program, at the team’s season opener on Saturday, Oct. 10, against the Laurier Golden Hawks in Waterloo, Ont.