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Q&A with Wolves coach Cam Abbott

On June 20, it was announced that Cam Abbott had been named the 14th head coach in Wolves history. The 40-year-old previously served as the head coach of Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League from 2017-23. Abbott recently sat down to discuss joining the Wolves, his coaching style, balancing winning with developing players for the NHL and much more.

What are your overall thoughts on joining the Wolves?

I’m just very grateful and thankful for this opportunity. I believe this is going to be the start of something terrific for the Chicago Wolves, the fan base, the way this team is going to play and also for the prospects and players coming from the Carolina organization.

It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for things to be elevated and to get back to playing the type of hockey that will make the fans proud and to create an environment where guys are excited to pull on that jersey and really push to be great. And to also serve this community and the fan base.

How would you describe your coaching style?

I’d like to think there’s actually a lot of similarities with Rod Brind’Amour in Carolina and how he has their team playing. I think it’s important to play fast-paced, be intense, stress the other team, play smart, risk-reward hockey, have four lines to be all working as a machine and to have creativity in the game but to also have structure that allows the team to be successful.

I’d like to offer opportunities and put guys in positions to grow and be successful. I love working with young, talented players who are hungry to be better and put the time to really invest in themselves and their team to excel.

So, what’s my coaching style? I love to create a connection with all the guys I get to coach. I’m here to serve them and to challenge them and create that environment where guys can come and do their work every day and have a lot of fun doing it.

The Wolves are known for winning championships. How do you balance winning along with the goal to develop players for the NHL?

It’s not all about winning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop players and win at the same time. You want to develop winners and you have to set that standard. In doing so, the winning will come. It’s not a win at all costs, for sure, but at the same time, the Chicago Wolves organization has five championships and they do expect competitive teams. It doesn’t mean you’re going to win every year but we’re going to work to make sure that the Chicago Wolves will be proud.

Do you follow the philosophy that reaching the postseason and playing in big games is a big part of developing players?

It’s all about getting these young men ready to compete at that time of the year and that will serve them well through their whole careers to play in those games. For sure, it’s going to be a balance and I’m committed to finding that right balance and to being open about how important both aspects are.

During your time in Sweden, you were able to connect and communicate with young players. How important will that be in this role?

I certainly recognize that in the seven years that I’ve been coaching professionally and also the years before that, interacting with junior players is so critical to communicating with today’s athletes and to helping them communicate effectively and make sure that it’s two ways. These guys understand that they are a part of the process. It’s not one directional and it’s an ongoing process. The communication has to be throughout the staff and the team and in all different directions: Player to player, player to coaches and every which way.

Communicating is something that has been I feel one of my strengths, especially having coached so many different players with different backgrounds being in Sweden the last seven years. It was such a diverse group of guys and you really need to adjust in some ways and find out how to most effectively communicate with each guy and really connect with them.

What will be the biggest adjustments from coaching in Europe to North America?

At this point, I’m kind of unsure. I’m eyes wide open on what the differences will be. I do feel like I have a very solid foundation having played through my upbringing and through college hockey and knowing the foundation of the game doesn’t change that much.

I do feel like I can bring a lot of strengths through my experience playing possession-based hockey. Playing with the puck is critical over in Sweden, otherwise you’re going to spend the whole game chasing it fruitlessly.

It’s the same game, and there are many fundamentals of how you design the structure that are very similar. There are some differences, some smaller tactical stuff along the walls and angles change, but I’m very confident that with Carolina’s help and how they want to play and how we want to play as an organization in Chicago, we’ll be able to really find the optimal situation in these areas.

From your playing days to working together in Sweden where he was the general manager and you were the head coach, you’ve been in lock-step with your brother, Chris. How will it be to do this job without him by your side?

I’ve been super-fortunate to work with Chris for the last seven years, and I played with him throughout my whole career. We complemented each other quite well in our roles the last little while so it will be different. We’re still very supportive of each other and I’m excited for it. I think we’ve been successful in our own roles and he’ll find success in the next situation and I will, too. As a coach, I know the importance of being completely aligned with the people you work for, and I certainly feel that support from the people in Carolina and the people I’ve been with in this process. I know Chris is excited for me in this opportunity as well.

Do you have a timeline for the announcement of assistant coaches?

We’re in that process right now. We want to make sure that we’re very thorough and find the final pieces to this group that are going to be really critical in being the best we can for these players and for this club. It’s early in the process but one which is going to take a lot of attention to get it right.