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VIDEO: New Rockets Head Coach has worn the uniform

"This was the most classy guy that I've ever dealt with," said Kelowna Rockets President and GM Bruce Hamilton. He was referring to how Adam Foote reacted to his firing. In a news conference today, Hamilton said his team has been sputtering and needed a new voice. But he admits with just 14 games left in the season and the team in a funk, there had to be a shake-up.

Assistant Kris Mallette takes over the coaching duties with the team having won just 3 of its last 15 games. "Fun but firm," is how he describes his coaching style. Mallette believes he can get the players motivated. "If I can get them to believe that I care, which I truly do," he said, "then I think I can get them to go through a wall for me."

Mallette played defence for the Rockets in 152 games from 1996 until 1999.

"With our team going to go on the road here," said Hamilton, about the timing of the decision. "If we were going to do something, now is the time to do it."

The move to let Foote go is an awkward one for the Rockets given that Foote's son Nolan is the team captain. "It'll be interesting," remarked Hamilton about that element of the situation. He said he left it up to Mallette to talk it over with Nolan. "I didn't think it was that appropriate for me," he added.

"We're going to challenge these guys," said Mallette about his mindset for the remainder of the season. "We're going to challenge them to be better."

There's a lot of pressure for the Rockets to do just that because regardless of how they perform for the rest of the season and into the playoffs, they will be on a national stage as host team at the Memorial Cup.

The Rockets first game under the leadership of Coach Kris Mallette is this Friday in Victoria.

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