When you mention the name Rob Speer around arenas in the Great Lakes region you often get the same responses, great player, leader, hard to play against, agitator loads of talent in a little package what is funny is most people don't even realize that he is not in the game as a player but he is now one of the coaches of the Detroit Fighting Irish. Speer was a staple on coach Dan Vasquez's teams for almost 6 full seasons as Speer began his Junior career as a 15 year old playing Jr B for the Motor City Chiefs. Within his first week with the organization Vasquez pegged Speer as a leader and made him a captain of the squad shortly after. Throughout his junior career he was always known as the Captain. But his trademark was not just his leadership qualities in the locker room .
"It was his ability to lead on the ice and to get every player no matter at what talent level or age level to buy into the game plan" stated Vasquez in a recent interview about Speer.
" The other part was just an unbridled love to compete and love for the game, he was always like an extra coach with his unique ability to communicate"
One of the hardest days in my entire coaching career was the day that I traded Rob in 4th junior season. That day sent shock waves though-out the entire hockey community however Rob went to that team and not only played a big role in turning that team around but that season he managed to orchestrate several big wins over Vasquez's teams never in spite but just in Rob Speer fashion.
However despite a great season Speer made it very well known that he had desires to return to the Irish for his final season. During Speer's final season as a junior Vasquez had stepped in the GM role relinquishing coaching duties however before doing so he made sure that Speer was coming back home to wear the the Green and Gold for his final season.
When you ask Speer about his Junior experience you get the feeling he has no regrets except for one and that was that his Coach wasn't behind the bench for his final season. Before that season ended Vasquez and Speer took a very hard look at Speer's playing future and though there were many College programs calling , Speer had a unique predicament and that was during his junior playing career he had worked full time and had become a skilled tradesman and had an opportunity to move up the chain.
I'm not sure when they made the decision but all I know is that when we had our first interview for Vasquez to return to the Bench he made it very clear the Robbie would be part of his coaching staff, I don't believe there was every a second thought or question in the Coach's mind that this was Speer's calling stated team owner and president Lisa Cruz
Robbie has been family to me for a very long time and nothing makes more prouder than to have him as part of my staff and more importantly as a trusted confident and fried he is the future of this organization and more importantly his impact will be part of the Junior Landscape for a long time"
This season marks the 2nd season for Speer as part of the Irish coaching staff. He gained more responsibility with the departure of Adam Kuhn ( another former player of Vasquez) whom moved to Florida to hone his coaching skills at the minor pro level. Speer now runs the defensive core and this year is surrounded by a large group of rookies the youngest defensive staff in Vasquez's coaching career with the exception of one Speer's rookie season.
" When we were looking at personnel and setting up scouting for this season we decided that with Speer working full time with the defence that we would be able to go younger in our development recognizing that we may a coach that has an ability to relate and to motivate young players" states Co Coach Pete Flynn.
From early signs it appears that the Detroit Fighting Irish brain trust are on to something.