Jim Hulton is back on an island. The Wolfe Island native has landed in Prince Edward Island, hired as the new head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It’s been a long road back to the Canadian Hockey League, since Hulton was ‘voted off the island’ by the Kingston Frontenacs in 2006 following an 81-point season and a first round playoff exit.
That was the worst decision on a very long list of bad decisions for a Frontenacs organization that hasn’t won a playoff round since 1998.
After being fired by the Fronts, Hulton spent a year coaching at Royal Military College, a season back in the OHL working alongside Dave Cameron and the Mississauga Icedogs, followed by a 3-year stint in the NHL as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.
He came back home to Kingston and was out of hockey for a couple of seasons, before moving to Nebraska and leaving his family behind in 2013 to coach the Tri-City Storm of the United States Junior Hockey League.
Hulton was named coach and GM in Tri-City , and for the first time in his career actually had input on the players he got to coach. The first year they finished under .500, but this past season they tacked on an extra 20 regular season wins and people began to take notice.
You knew it was only a matter of time before an opportunity opened back up for him in the CHL. The Frontenacs should have hired him back as coach and GM, but that would have involved admitting a previous mistake and you know that doesn’t happen here. So as the Fronts continue upon their merry little trek to oblivion, Jim Hulton packs up again and heads to the Maritimes to an Islanders team that looks like it has some pieces.
Neate Sager in a post on Yahoo Sports, points out the Islanders have two second round NHL draft picks and a goalie on Team Canada’s radar for the World Juniors. The team posted a 35-28-1-4 record this past season and won a playoff round for the first time since 2004.
Almost 70 candidates applied for the job, but GM Grant Sonier told The Guardian newspaper in PEI he wanted Hulton, “He is a motivator, a teacher, and a guy that we think can bring this team to the next level. We’re really elated to get him.”
Just over a decade ago, after being fired by the Montreal Canadiens, Alain Vigneault went to PEI to relaunch his coaching career in the ‘Q’.
Hulton will feel right at home in PEI, they’re his kind of people, and on-ice success will be sure to follow.