It wasn’t too long ago when Chase Souto was racing up and down the wing as a member of the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.
These days, he’s proving himself as a vital coaching and administrative cog within the program.
Recently appointed the Jr. Kings’ assistant general manager of hockey operations, Souto will work alongside Nick Vachon - the club’s general manager of hockey operations - in an effort to advance and enhance the organization’s overall player development structure.
“Since I stopped playing, I’ve really been focusing on learning the ins and outs of what it takes to become the general manager of a hockey team at a high level,” said Souto. “I love coaching, but that’s my ultimate goal and, to be in this position working with Nick is obviously a great opportunity; I’m really excited.”
In the newly created role, Souto will also oversee all of the club’s player- and coach-related disciplinary issues, as well as serve as the organization’s SafeSport coordinator.
Helping architect and showcase a worthy and healthy product on the ice at all levels is also paramount.
“I want to see us developing our A and AA kids and moving them up to the levels they want to be, and along the way making sure all of our kids are having fun with the game,” said Souto.
“I want to make sure our kids enjoy coming to the rink and are excited to work hard and get better as hockey players and also as people; developing quality, professional people is something hockey does teach, and this environment we’ve created at (El Segundo’s) Toyota Sports Center (the Jr. Kings’ home facility) definitely gives them a chance to do that.”
A Yorba Linda native, Souto began his youth hockey career with the California Wave before playing a year at the Bantam AAA and Midget AAA levels under the direction of head coach Jack Bowkus, who today serves as the Jr. Kings’ 16U AAA head coach.
At 16 years old, Souto headed north to Canada where he played four seasons for the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers from 2010-14 before returning to Southern California to begin his coaching career.
Now in his third year behind the Jr. Kings bench, the 22-year-old Souto will also serve as an assistant coach on the club’s Midget 18U AAA, 16U AAA and Pee Wee Major AAA 05 teams this coming season.
Vachon couldn’t be happier to have Souto at his side as the Jr. Kings continue to elevate their player and coaching development model, on and off the ice.
“This position is right up Chase’s alley,” said Vachon. “He’s a former Jr. King, his enthusiasm for both teaching and learning is through the roof, and he’s well-liked and respected by our kids, their families and our coaches.”
“He’s going to help me and hopefully I can help him and help the club,” Souto said of Vachon. “He’s very personable and his professional side is second to none; when he needs to get stuff done, he does, and I really like that.
“We feed off of each other; all of our coaches do and I think that’s really cool. With the elite coaching staff we have, a lot of ideas are thrown around and it’s really good stuff.”
And Souto is nothing but encouraged with the beefed-up resources and support the Jr. Kings are providing in an effort to set the club apart from a development standpoint.
“That’s one thing I’m really exited about,” said Souto. “I think the club has really taken on a new look and feel when it comes to moving all of our kids in the right direction, from our Mite teams all the way up to our Midget AAA teams.
“I think we have great leadership, I think we have a great coaching staff, and now being overseen by the (NHL’s Los Angeles) Kings, I think that’s going to bring us to a new level which is really special.”