MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Leo Thomas is the Macon Mayhem’s new head coach and director of hockey operations.
Thomas, an assistant under coach Kevin Kerr the last two seasons, becomes the first and only black head coach in the Southern Professional Hockey League. He’s also the only black head coach in north American professional hockey.
“I didn’t realize it until like yesterday,” Thomas told reporters after a news conference Wednesday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. “Like, wow, this is a pretty big deal. When I started playing at that young age, I dealt with so much stuff being colored and stuff like that. I can’t even express the joy and happiness I have right now.”
The 36-year-old Toronto, Ontario native, who played 13 seasons of professional hockey, was approached by other teams after the 2017-18 season but decided Macon was the right fit.
“That was kind of like my plan to hopefully take over this team, but I mean, things happen,” he said. “Not to take anything away from those other teams, but I felt comfortable here. I’ve been here for two years and helped build this team where it is now. It was a no-brainer, really.”
“With the foundation that was built over the past three seasons, we knew that Leo was the best candidate to build on the success we have had and take Macon Mayhem hockey to even higher levels,” Mayhem Assistant General Manager Blair Floyd said. “Leo knows the expectations we have here and the culture we want to build in our locker room, and we believe he will do a tremendous job as our head coach and director of hockey operations.”
Thomas replaces Kevin Kerr, who resigned after three seasons to take over the ECHL’s (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League) Greenville Swamp Rabbits.