Photo Credit:Charlotte Rush
Ryan Cruthers is a man on a mission. He is a part of an ownership group that owns two USPHL teams, and Carolina Premier Hockey. He drove over 1300 miles with the help of Rush Coaches to take the assistant coach job with the Sioux Falls Stampede. Multiple times and at multiple points in our conversations with him we have it known that he wants to be behind the bench for an NHL team as its Head Coach.
With that said, the leader who is climbing up to the highest echelon of hockey is also smart. He knows the truth of relying on a team to get further isn’t limited to those on the ice, and is humble about it. As he said “It’s really not all me, you surround yourself with people better than you.” Cruthers has some common traits he likes to see in his staffs. Here are his thoughts on those he has worked with within his organization and beyond.
Jacob Smulevitch- Infantry Head Coach
Cruthers saw a bit of himself in Smulevitch. As he said “He kind of reminded me of myself when I first got into it( coaching). For our ownership group he was a familiar face. The job wasn’t just given to him. Some guys had Division One College Hockey experience. I thought he gained a ton of experience and knowledge with the Rush. To me it was a no brainer.He gets guys to believe in whatever he’s doing. His players love playing for him. He has a proven track record( with the Charlotte Rush).”
Jon De Castro-Infantry and Rush Goaltending Coach, and Carolina Premier Hockey Program Director
“Jon’s role is a three headed monster.” He has three roles. Cruthers met him four months ago in Florida at a hockey camp. He saw what Jon did and was “blown away.” “He checked every box. His resume is better than any goalie in the Carolinas, he wanted a bigger role than the goalie coach, he runs our AAA program.”Cruthers was impressed by his passion, and desire to help out in multiple areas. As Cruthers added, “for us he’s a huge addition.”
Troy Schwab-Charlotte Rush Head Coach
Cruthers and Troy Schwab are competitors. Cruthers will tell you, for instance, that he is the better golfer. We bet Schwab would have something different to say about that. As Cruthers said of how the two met, “we played against each other at the pro level. That came from our competitiveness and want to win ( they went at each other all the time at the pro level as players.”
That same drive later brought the two together around a common goal, as Cruthers said it was “ok, how do we build hockey in the Carolinas together.”
Cruthers added , “The thing with Troy is he loves hockey. For me with Troy his passion for the game … he wants more. I hope there’s a day where me and him are coaching in the NHL together.”
Trevor Kleckner-Rush Assistant Coach
Cruthers cannot say enough good things about Trevor Kleckner. He said “Klecks is one of those guys whose like your first love. He came to the Rush in the dark times.” Cruthers decided to stick with him and build with him, “he’s an amazing human.” “He’s passionate about the Rush because the Rush changed his life. He’s got a lot to learn on the coaching side of things but that’s why he’s here.”Cruthers also sees him in the NHL one day. Kleckner is a model for what Rush Culture is and is an ambassador for them. Everything off the ice and beyond the box score is why Cruthers loves him.
Ray Sylvester -video coordinator at Sioux Falls, he went on that trip with Cruthers, former Rush video coordinator
“Ray is a kid that I met at Robert Morris. The first thing that stuck out to me was his passion for hockey. He loved the hockey piece. That helps when your video guy understands the game. It’s not just a guy that can hit buttons. He was always asking questions. We spent a lot of time together talking about what his development plan looks like. He’s a better human being. The team loves him. we don’t win a national championship at the Elite and Premier level without Ray Sylvester.”Cruthers also noted that Ray has the room and the respect of the Stampede players, a loaded roster with NHL draft picks , and future NHL draft picks. He’s been there only a few weeks.
Trevor Jewell-Director of Player Development
Trevor Jewell brings the Rush together. Cruthers was direct and said, “He’s been with me since I started this. He came in as a volunteer. Trevor is everything. Without Trevor there is no Ryan Cruthers. I owe a lot of my sucess to Trevor. He’s a great recruiter because he’s honest. He fulfills his promises to these families. Trevor is what the Charlotte Rush is. We don’t have our success without him. This program is basically his. I trust him in my absence. I owe so much to him. His future is so bright. If I won the Stanley Cup he’d be the first person who I’d pass it to.”
Cruthers wanted to talk about all the people he’s worked with not to toot his own horn but because he is a builder. He wants to get to the NHL level one day and knows that having good people around him as he goes is a big part of that. The purpose of this piece is to showcase the talent and skill of those that Cruthers has worked with.
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