YKK Widnes Wild Player Coach Richard Haggar (Photo by Geoff White)
The new Player Coach for the 2021/22 NIHL season, Richard Haggar, needs no introduction to Wild fans, having been a top player and leading points scorer in the Laidler Division for several seasons with the Hull Jets before joining the Wild for both the North Cup and the Three Rivers Cup this year.
He learned his ice hockey in his native Hull and came though the highly respected Kingston junior system, also making regional conference appearances at every age level.
Richard made his senior competitive debut for the Kingston Jets in the – then – English National League in 2006, aged just 16 and turned out for them 74 times over 5 seasons while, at the same time, making over 100 appearances for the various junior teams. He also played 4 seasons of University hockey for the Hull Ice Hogs team, notching up 120 goals and 76 assists in just 46 games.
Haggar has been the top points scorer in the re-branded Hull Jets team in the NIHL Laidler Division since 2016 with 162 goals and 182 assists in 114 games and the winner of numerous All Star and player awards. He was also a member of the Hull team that just pipped Widnes Wild to the league title in 2020 in the Covid-disrupted Laidler Division season.
Richard joined the Wild back in February as part of Ollie Barron’s squad that went on win the 4 –team NIHL North Cup and he finished as top scorer in the competition with 7 goals and 11 assists in 6 games. He then stepped up to take on the role as player/coach for the Three Rivers Cup competition, leading the team to runners up spot and then to the Division 1 National Championship title in Sheffield in early June.
Speaking about his appointment, Richard said,
“Having the opportunity to be player coach for Widnes next season was an opportunity I could not turn down. The Three Rivers cup was a real learning curve. However, I am looking forward to getting started now and building on the platform left by Ollie”.
“Taking the step up to Division 1 will be exciting and I will give 100% to ensure Widnes continue to be successful”, added Richard.
Commenting on Haggar’s appointment as player / coach, Widnes Wild General Manager Wez Spurrett said:
“Bringing Richard on as the Wild Head Coach going forward was one of the easier decisions we have had to make. Following his well deserved success in the Three Rivers series and then the playoff weekend with effectively a brand new team and in an incredibly short amount of time, asking Richard to stay on for the regular season was the natural action to take.”
“I have full confidence that Richard is the man for the job to continue the recent successes at the Wild for a long time to come!”