Kamloops really isn't home to Mark Ferner, but he keeps coming back.
"It was always some place I came back to when I was playing," the Kamloops Blazers' new associate coach said Friday before taking to the Interior Savings Centre ice surface on the opening day of the WHL team's training camp.
Ferner, a 47-year-old Regina native, played two seasons with the Kamloops Junior Oilers and one (1984-85) with the Blazers. After his pro career ended, he spent more than four seasons on the Blazers' coaching staff.
So is it fair to call Kamloops at least his second home?
"Yeah, for sure," he said with a smile. "Vernon is a great little community and we loved it there. But inevitably you have to move if you want to accomplish what you want to do as far as coaching is concerned."
Ferner, in other words, is prepared to move again and again and again, because he wants to coach.
Ferner and his family - wife Jody and son Mackenzie, 17, who is with the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors - have lived in Vernon since 2007. Mark spent four seasons as general manager and head coach of the BCHL's Vipers, going an amazing 165-51-24, winning consecutive national championships (2009, 2010) and making the 2011 national final.
"It was fun," he said. "There was a lot of hard work. But I have to give credit to the kids. We had good kids there and they wanted it . . . they got a taste of it.
"We had the mentality that we were going to get better every day."
Ferner left Vernon for the head-coaching position with the Everett Silvertips. However, Doug Soetaert, the general manager who hired him, lost his job on Feb. 2, 2012. Garry Davidson, who replaced Soetaert, fired Ferner 11 months later.
Asked if there are any regrets about his time in Everett, Ferner quickly replied: "Not at all."
"Doug Soetaert is such a great man," Ferner continued. "I worked for and with him for a year and a half and I can honestly say he's one of my favourite people in hockey. He really truly cared about that organization and the people he hired.
"You learn in a lot of different ways. You learn when you have success and you learn when maybe your team doesn't have as much success as you want. You learn to motivate yourself and use that the next time you get an opportunity to coach."
That next time is with the Blazers. Ferner will work alongside Dave Hunchak, who moved up from associate coach to head coach when Guy Charron chose to step back. He now is an advisor to hockey operations.
Ferner said a chance meeting with Kamloops general manager Craig Bonner resulted in his coming back. At the time, Charron had just made his decision and, according to Ferner, Bonner asked if working here was something that might interest him.
"I didn't think too much about it at the time," Ferner admitted, "but I said, 'Yeah, if I have nothing else going on, it's something that I would be really intrigued with.' "
So . . . here we are.
Interestingly, in a game where a lot of back-scratching goes on, Hunchak and Ferner don't have any history together. In fact, their first conversation may have come late last January when they chatted at a party to celebrate the retirement of former defenceman Scott Niedermayer's number.
"When this opportunity came up, with the history of Guy and Dave," Ferner said, "I thought it was a great opportunity to grow and learn."
The relationship in its early stages, the two haven't sorted out their roles just yet. Ferner, however, is really excited because of something Hunchak said during the hiring process.
"I think it'll be real rewarding because he has basically said, 'You're going to come in here and we're going to coach together. If there's something that you see, you have to tell me or you have to tell the team.' "
Which is exactly what Ferner plans on doing.
JUST NOTES: A weekend training camp schedule is in Scoreboard under What's On. . . . Rookie camp concludes today, with main camp started Sunday morning. . . . The Blazers have two guest coaches in camp. Mike Valley, a former free-agent signing of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks and a Richmond native, is preparing for his fifth season as the Dallas Stars' goaltending coach. Jack Campbell, 21, was the 11th overall selection in the 2010 NHL draft. He is preparing for his second pro season after spending last season with the AHL's Texas Stars. . . . Sophomore D Jordan Thomson is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. . . . F Philip Knies of Phoenix was unable to attend due to an undisclosed injury, while D Josh Bishop of Strathmore, Alta., is day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment. . . . In rookie camp, F Nick Chyzowski scored the lone goal as Team Iginla beat Team Recchi 1-0 in the first half of a scrimmage. In the second half, the Recchis got goals from F Deven Sideroff and F Jermaine Loewen in winning 2-0. G Connor Ingram (Iginla) and G Dylan Ferguson (Recchi) had the shutouts. . . . In the other scrimmage, Team Sydor and Team Doan tied 1-1 in the first half, with F Jesse Zaharichuk (Doan) and F Adam Tisdale (Sydor) scoring. Team Doan won the second half 2-1 on two goals by F Josh Beaudry. Tisdale scored for Team Sydor. . . . A full schedule and rosters are at blazerhockey.com.