Monday, July 11, 2011

Coaching news in the WHL

D Giffen Nyren (Moose Jaw, Kamloops, Calgary, 2006-10) signed a try-out contract through Sept. 1 with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had four goals and six assists in 29 games for the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL) and one goal and three assists in 15 games with the Abbotsford Heat (AHL) last season. . . .
D Bryce Lampman (Kamloops, 2002-03) signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Scorpions (Germany, DEL). He had two goals and five assists in 24 games for Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL) after starting last season with the Houston Aeros (AHL), where he was pointless in five games. . . .
F Martin Ruzicka (Everett, Lethbridge, 2003-05) signed a one-year contract with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). He had 24 goals and 26 assists in 51 games for Trinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) last season.
Mike Stothers
It would seem that the last two WHL teams without head coaches have made their decisions.
A source told me early Monday evening — and subsequent reports are all over the Internet — that the Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to name Mike Stothers as their head coach, while the Regina Pats may have settled on Ryan McGill. Regina, by the way, did give strong consideration to hiring Stothers before choosing to go in another direction.
Stothers, a 49-year-old Torontonian, was the 21st selection in the 1980 NHL draft, going to the Philadelphia Flyers from the OHL’s Kingston Canadians. He played professionally through 1991-92 when he got into coaching as a player/assistant coach with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
Since then he has coached in the AHL, NHL, and OHL. He spent five seasons (2002-07) as head coach of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
Last season, Stothers was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers.
In Moose Jaw, Stothers will take over from Dave Hunchak, who was fired after going 40-26-6 and finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference. Hunchak has since signed as an associate coach with the Kamloops Blazers.
Of course, it wasn't that long ago when sources had Dave Barr fingered as the Warriors' next head coach. The source I heard from early Monday evening, however, is rather highly placed within WHL circles.
Meanwhile, The Coaches Site tweeted about 9 p.m. PT that “former Calgary Flames assistant Ryan McGill expected to be named the Regina Pats new head coach as early as (today).”
Word out of Regina — see Greg Harder's blog Slap Shots over there on the right — is that the Pats are close to a hire but negotiations continue.
McGill, 42, spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Before that, he spent four seasons as the head coach of the Flames’ AHL affiliates, first the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and then the Quad City Flames.
Ryan McGill
A native of Sherwood Park, Alta., he is a former WHL defenceman (Lethbridge, Swift Current, Medicine Hat, 1985-89) who was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Ice (1996-98) and a head coach with Edmonton/Kootenay (1997-2001). He guided the Ice to the 2002 Memorial Cup title and then spent three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack.
In Regina, McGill would replace Curtis Hunt, who was fired last month.
The Everett Silvertips (Mark Ferner) and Seattle Thunderbirds (Steve Konowalchuk) also have new head coaches. Craig Hartsburg left Everett and now is an associate coach with the Calgary Flames. Meanwhile, the Kent-based Thunderbirds cut ties with long-time head coach Rob Sumner after last season.
Dan Bonar, who has scouted for the Calgary Hitmen for eight seasons, is the team’s new head scout. Bonar, from Deloraine, Man., replaces Brad Whelen, who now is with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Bonar played for the Brandon Wheat Kings before going on to an NHL career that included stints with the Los Angeles Kings. He was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
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