THE COACHING GAME:
The Swift Current Broncos have added Andy Schneider to their coaching staff as an assistant. He’ll work with GM/head coach Mark Lamb and assistant coach Darren Evjen. Schneider, 39, played 15 seasons in Europe and is a member of the Broncos Hall of Fame. He played four seasons with the Broncos (1989-93), finishing with 367 points in 300 games. . . . The only other time in franchise history when the Broncos employed two assistant coaches was 1998-2001 when Andrew Milne was in the role as the second assistant. . . . The Southwest Booster has more on Schneider's role right here. . . .
Vladimir Vujtek, 64, is the new head coach of the Slovakian national hockey team. He replaces Glen Hanlon, who was released after the 2011 world championship. Vujtek is the first Czech to coach the Slovakian team, which means this is a big, big story in the world of international hockey. . . . Hanlon now is an assistant coach with the Vancouver Giants. . . .
Hockey Canada has hired Ron Tugnutt as its goaltender coach. Tugnutt will work with the national men’s teams on a full-time basis. Tugnutt, 43, is no stranger to Hockey Canada, having been a part-timer for two years. . . . According to a Hockey Canada news release, “Tugnutt will be scouting for Canada’s national men’s teams as well as working with Hockey Canada’s development department to develop and improve resources for goaltenders and goaltending coaches. Tugnutt will continue to work closely with Canada’s National Junior Team and National Men’s Under-18 Team, scouting and assisting goaltenders for Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence.” . . .
Brian Kilrea, the winningest coach in major junior hockey history, has decided to step aside as general manager of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. Kilrea, 76, spent 37 years with the franchise and will continue to do some scouting for them. Chris Byrne, 37, will add the GM’s duties to his role has head coach. He is preparing for his third season as head coach after taking over behind the bench from Kilrea, who won 1,193 games during his coaching career. . . .
The Victoria Royals have rounded out their coaching staff with the hiring of Craig Didmon, who will work home practices and home games. Last season, he was the head coach of the major midget South Island Thunderbirds. . . . He joins GM/head coach Marc Habscheid, assistant coach Enio Sacilotto, who was with the club last season when it was the Chilliwack Bruins, and Ben Cooper, who has worked in video with Hockey Canada and also as an assistant coach with the SAIT Trojans in Calgary. . . .
Bob Dever has signed on as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. Dever spent the last three seasons coaching in Hungary. . . . He has previous BCHL experience with the Vernon Vipers and Merritt Centennials. Dever and Bill Birks, Trail’s general manager and head coach, played together with Merritt back in the day.
JUST NOTES: Ben Calkins is the new equipment manager with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He spent last season with the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder. Calkins, 24, replaces Jason Berger, who now is with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. . . . The Victoria Royals have named Jeff Harris the director of hockey operations and communications, with Parry Shockey coming on board as director of WHL and junior A scouting. Harris, 39, spent the last four seasons as assistant GM and director of media and community relations with the now-defunct Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. Shockey, 57, is well known across the WHL. He will work out of Calgary. Last season he was head coach of the midget AAA UFA Bisons. He has WHL coaching experience with the Spokane Chiefs, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Royals also hired Andy Neal and Matt Human as managers of communications and hockey operations co-ordinators. Neal spent the last two seasons in Prince George doing media relations; last season, he also was the team’s play-by-play voice. Human worked in the media relations and communications department with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
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