Thursday, August 4, 2011

F Marc Brown (Spokane, Prince Albert, 1996-99) signed a one-year contract with ATSE Graz (Austria, Nationalliga). He had eight goals and 16 assists in 25 games with Zell am See (Austria, Nationalliga) last season. ATSE head coach Martin Hohenberger (Victoria/Prince George, Lethbridge, 1993-1997): "He's a professional athlete with a good attitude, always leading his teammates by example. For me as a coach, it is important to have those types in the room." . . .
F Kiel McLeod (Kelowna, 1997-2003) signed a one-year contract with the Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, 2.Bundesliga). He had nine goals and 16 assists in 40 games with the Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL) last season.
Kelly McCrimmon always said he would hire a head coach when he found the right person.
One supposes, then, that he feels Cory Clouston is the right man, that the level of trust McCrimmon feels with Clouston is awfully high.
McCrimmon, if you aren’t aware, is the Brandon Wheat Kings’ owner, governor, general manager, head coach, chief cook and No. 1 bottlewasher. He has his fingers in every corner of the organization. And well he should; after all, it is his team.
On Wednesday, he stepped aside as his club’s head coach, a position he had held since taking over from Mike Kelly late in 2003-04, and hired Clouston, who has a two-year contract with the usual out clause.
All during the 2010 Memorial Cup tournament, which was held in Brandon, the question one heard most often while wandering the Keystone Centre concourse and sitting in the media work area was: “Will Kelly be back behind the bench?”
At that time, the general consensus was that McCrimmon would step aside after the tournament. That, of course, never happened. Which isn’t to say McCrimmon didn’t think about it.
“I’ve said before there would be a time where we would go back to the more traditional structure with a full-time coach and general manager being two different people,” McCrimmon told Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun. “I thought about it a year ago and yet with the transition I felt our team was going to go through, I didn’t think it was fair at that time to bring a person in, and I think hindsight likely demonstrated that that was a good decision.”
Keep in mind that this isn’t the first time McCrimmon has replaced himself as coach.
McCrimmon played two seasons (1978-80) with the Wheat Kings before going on to play four seasons with the U of Michigan Wolverines. (I know! I know! NCAA rules and all that. But he did play at Michigan. You could, as they say, look it up.)
McCrimmon eventually would return to Brandon as an assistant coach, and he then served as head coach for two seasons (1990-92), going 30-106-8.
It is interesting that McCrimmon didn’t hire a head coach for 1991-92. He also was the GM and he thought about it, but he knew that wasn’t going to be a good team, so he chose to subject himself to the misery of an 11-victory season rather than hire someone he knew he might have to fire in short order. He took one for the team, you might say. (At the time, he was a minority owner, with Bob Cornell the majority owner.)
McCrimmon bought out Cornell in 2000.
Bob Lowes, who now scouts for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, was the Wheat Kings’ head coach at the time. In fact, he had been since 1993-94.
Lowes moved on to the Regina Pats after the 2000-01 season, with McCrimmon hiring Dean Clark for what was a two-year run.
After Clark left for the Kamloops Blazers, McCrimmon hired Mike Kelly, who had spent four seasons as head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Centennials.
McCrimmon, however, didn’t like what he was seeing late in that season and he moved behind the bench himself. All the Wheat Kings did with McCrimmon coaching was go 294-177-35. They won at least 40 games in five of the last seven seasons.
Clouston, of course, was no slouch during his five seasons (209-114-37) as head coach of the Kootenay Ice. Clouston, 41, left for the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, and then progressed to the parent Ottawa Senators. He was their head coach for the last two-plus seasons, but his contract wasn’t renewed at the end of last season.
The Wheat Kings are coming off a season in which they iced a young roster, traded away starry centre Brayden Schenn in a blockbuster deal, finished 32-31-9 and then lost a first-round playoff series to the Medicine Hat Tigers in six games.
Clouston, the only candidate to whom McCrimmon spoke about the job, takes over a team that has two terrific 18-year-old goaltenders, in Corbin Boes and Liam Liston, and a solid back end. In fact, McCrimmon may have to move a defenceman or two — or perhaps even a goaltender — in order to bring in some help up front.
But what this move does is free up McCrimmon to get back to what he does best — beating the bushes in search of talent.
No one works at it like McCrimmon, who, before his coaching days, was known to pull into a Tim Hortons on the east side of Regina to get a jolt of caffeine-to-go before continuing the trek home after a Saturday night in an arena in southern Saskatchewan. By then it would be Sunday, 1 a.m.
Clouston, it should be pointed out, has a pretty good work ethic, too. He spent Tuesday night watching four of his new team’s games on video.
The Wheat Kings also announced that assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk will be back for a ninth season, while Darren Ritchie, who had been a part-timer, now is a full-time assistant. This will be his fifth season with the Wheat Kings.
As well, Matt Cockell is returning for his fifth season as goaltending coach, with Jim Frederickson back for a ninth season as strength-and-conditioning coach.
The Regina Pats have filled out their coaching staff with the hirings of Malcolm Cameron and Josh Dixon to work alongside head coach Pat Conacher. . . . Cameron has spent the last nine seasons as a head coach in the ECHL. Last season, he was with th Elmira Jackals. He also spent two seasons each with the Long Beach Ice Dogs, the Texas Wildcatters and the Florida Everblades. . . . Dixon spent last season working at the Okanagan Hockey Academy. He also has coaching experience with the Mount Royal Cougars, the U of Calgary Dinos and the Carleton U Ravens. . . . It’s worth noting that the Pats hired Cameron and Dixon as full-time assistants; in the past, they have had one full-time and one part-time assistant. You will have noted that Brandon also upped its staff to two full-time assistants. . . .
John Wroblewski is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators. He takes over from Jeff Pyle, who now is head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars. Last season, Wroblewski ws an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers. Prior to that, he was with USA Hockey’s NTDP program (2007-10). . . .
Veteran coach Ted Nolan has taken over as head coach of the Latvian national team. Nolan, 53, replaces Olegs Znaroks, who was dumped after a 13th-place finish at the world championship. Nolan is a former NHL coach of the year who most recently has been working as vice-president of hockey operations for the AHL’s Rochester Americans. . . .
The Everett Silvertips will be hiring a new goaltending coach with the news -- as speculated yesterday by Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald -- that Jordan Sigalet has indeed signed on with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. Sigalet worked for the Silvertips last season on a part-time basis. . . .
As was anticipated, Bob Boughner is back as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. After winning back-to-back Memorial Cups, Boughner signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. That gig lasted one season, after which he returned to the Spitfires, a team of which he is a part-owner. Bob Jones, the associate head coach who served as head coach in Windsor last season, is again the associate coach. D.J. Smith the associate coach last season, is back to being assistant coach, while David Matsos, who joined the club as an assistant coach a year ago when Boughner left, remains on staff.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have hired Robbie Snooks as director of video and web services. Snooks is one of the people who was impacted by the move of the Chilliwack Bruins to Victoria. He had been the Bruins’ director of video services. . . . The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets made it official on Tuesday as they promoted Tyler Wright to director of amateur scouting. He also will continue to serve as development coach. . . . The Red Deer Rebels are to “begin construction on a 4,600-square foot expansion of their business offices,” according to a news release issued by the team. “It will include a larger reception area, enhanced office space, and an executive board room.” Construction is to begin in about 10 days, with completion set for late in the year. . . .
When the Everett Silvertips announced last month that trainer Chris Walker was leaving after four years, they only said that he was going to an AHL team. The San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, announced Wednesday that Walker is their new trainer. . . . In Brandon, the Wheat Kings also announced that Grant Ammann is their new trainer, taking over from Cam McGhee, who has gone back to school at the U of Manitoba. Ammann has worked with the BCHL’s Burnaby Express and soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. . . . F Brayden Metz (Regina, Chilliwack, Moose Jaw, 2005-10) has signed with the Louisiana IceGators of the Southern Professional league. Metz, 21, had 73 points in 53 games with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires and Melfort Mustangs last season. . . .
The Victoria Grizzlies have acquired the BCHL playing rights to G Jamie Tucker, 20, of the Prince Albert Raiders. Tucker, who is from Saanich, has played three seasons in the WHL, the last one and a bit with the Raiders. Victoria got his rights from the Penticton Vees in exchange for G Michael Garteig, 20, who had been acquired a day earlier from the Powell River Kings. Len Barrie, the Grizzlies’ majority owner, coached powerful minor hockey team a few years ago and Tucker was on that team. . . . Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist has more right here.
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