DULUTH, Ga. – On Tuesday the Gladiators announced Derek Nesbitt as the team's new assistant coach. Nesbitt previously skated with the Gladiators for nine seasons as a player and holds the club's all-time records in games played (512), goals (166), assists (258), and points (424). The Seaforth, Ontario native served as Atlanta's captain for five of the last six seasons before announcing his retirement from playing this summer.
Nesbitt will continue as Director of Youth Hockey at the Atlanta IceForum along with fulfilling his new Gladiators coaching responsibilities.
The announcement of Nesbitt's hiring comes days before the Gladiators are scheduled to retire the former captain's number 17 during the first intermission of Sunday's game against the Savannah Ghost Pirates. At the ceremony, Nesbitt's number 17 will be lifted into the rafters at Gas South Arena to join Cam Brown's retired number 44 and Andy Brandt's retired number 41. The team has announced that the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a free Derek Nesbitt bobblehead. TICKETS
"Derek had an incredible playing career that touched countless lives in the Atlanta hockey community," commented Team Owner Alex Campbell. "More than that, he has proven to be a special person and an effective leader. I have no doubt that he'll transition into coaching smoothly and continue to serve as a valuable member of our hockey staff."
"We're happy to have him with us," said Head Coach Jeff Pyle. "It will be nice to have the support."
Nesbitt joins Pyle on the bench after playing six seasons under him with the Gladiators. Pyle first recruited Nesbitt to Gwinnett County in 2005 and served as Nesbitt's head coach during Nesbitt's final campaign as a player last season.
"I've always been intrigued with and enjoyed the teaching and coaching side of the game," remarked Nesbitt. "That's evident in the path I chose with my current role as Director of Youth Hockey at the Atlanta IceForum. Being able to assist and learn from Jeff, someone I consider a mentor, with an organization that has given me so much is an exciting opportunity."
Nesbitt played 1,040 games and racked up 805 points through 16 professional seasons. The forward spent parts of seven seasons in the American Hockey League and published 225 points in 372 AHL games.