PEABODY — Longtime youth hockey coach Christian Wright has waited patiently for an opportunity to take over a high school program. Last week, Wright finally got his chance.
A former hockey standout at Belmont High, Wright has been hired as the new head boys hockey coach at Peabody. Wright’s appointment was made official by Tanners Athletic Director Bob Bua.
“I was thrilled,” Wright said. “I’ve been trying to get a head coach job for about seven or eight years now. It’s extremely difficult to break into those ranks if you’re not a teacher and you haven’t been a head coach before. I’m extremely grateful that Peabody and Mr. Bua are giving me a shot.”
A Belmont native, Wright also played baseball and football in his days wearing the Marauders uniforms. He graduated from Belmont High in 1987 and attended New Hampton School (in New Hampshire) for one year before going to Boston College.
Wright started coaching while he was in college. His coaching career began at the youth level with the Boston Junior Bruins organization. He has also coached youth hockey with the Greater Boston Vipers and held stints as an assistant on the staffs at Belmont High and Wakefield High.
Wright feels his previous experiences have prepared him for his newest chapter.
“High school players want to be taught,” Wright, who resides in Melrose, said. “They have a desire to understand a system. High school kids generally want to perform and compete. I know I have the ability to help them. I’m very confident I can get these kids motivated and ready to play. I know I can connect with these kids in a way that gets them to perform.
“I love the sport and I love teaching,” Wright said. “I try to look at the big picture. I always tell parents and players that after a player’s done playing for me, he should feel very strongly about looking to coach some day.”
Wright takes over for former Tanners coach Mark Leonard, who spent 24 seasons as head coach. Peabody has struggled to compete in recent seasons. The Tanners went 1-18-1 last winter (the lone win was a 6-5 victory over Danvers). Leonard was let go shortly after the 2019 campaign concluded. He was hired as the new head boys hockey coach at Essex Tech earlier this month.
“I’m familiar with Coach Leonard,” Wright said. “I think the reality is that kids are much different than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Players are more inclined to walk away from situations than battle through tough situations. I think that can be difficult on old-school hockey guys. I’ve seen what’s happened at Peabody in other areas. From coaching at the youth levels I think I have a pretty good handle on how players need to be taught and coached.”
Wright knows that turning the program around is a task easier said than done. He feels confident he can get the Tanners moving in the right direction but it won’t happen overnight.
“I told both the players and parents that there’s no magic potion,” Wright said. “You can bring Bruce Cassidy from the Bruins and that’s not going to guarantee a state championship. What you ultimately have to do is connect to the kids and get them to buy in, because they’re the ones that will win games. It’s about getting the kids to buy in. I’ve had good success with that and I don’t see any reason why that can’t continue at Peabody.
“They seem excited to get a new breath of life in there,” Wright said. “I know Coach Leonard’s a good hockey guy. Sometimes situations just need to change and hopefully I’m the right one.”