Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bonner hunting for coach

Daily News Sports Editor
Four down.
One, maybe two, to go.
Craig Bonner, the general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, is in charge of
the hockey side of the only WHL team presently without a head coach.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, Bonner had interviewed four candidates for
the position.
“I’m going to talk to one more for sure . . . maybe two,” Bonner said. “I’d
like to think in the next couple of weeks, three weeks at the most, we’ll
have a guy in place.
“I’m looking forward to moving on with the coaching.”
One of the candidates with whom Bonner has spoken is Barry Smith, a veteran
coach who was fired last week by the Vancouver Canucks. A 47-year-old native
of Stambaugh, Mich., Smith had been an assistant coach with the NHL team for
five years.
“His name has come up,” Bonner said. “He’s an interesting guy. . . . He has
great references.”
Bonner said he has been most impressed with the first four candidates to go
through the interview process.
“There are good candidates and I’m comfortable that we’re going to have a
good guy in place,” he said. “Most guys share the same message and say the
things we want to hear and we want done. It’s just a matter of figuring out
which guy is going to do everything that they are saying.
“I’m comfortable with the guys so far.”
The Blazers went into last season with Dean Clark as their general manager
and head coach. He was dismissed Nov. 7 and former defenceman Greg Hawgood
stepped in as interim head coach. The Blazers finished 27-41-2-2 and were
swept from the first round of the playoffs by the Tri-City Americans.
Overall, Kamloops lost 18 of its last 19 games.
Hawgood is expected to remain on the staff as an assistant coach.
While Bonner has been looking for a head coach, he also has been reshaping
other parts of the hockey operation.
Late Tuesday, he announced that Doris Rubel and her daugher, Karen, will
serve as the team’s billet co-ordinators, replacing Sherlane and Wally
Reutlinger, who had been put in place by Clark.
Doris Rubel was the billet co-ordinator when Bonner played and coached with
the Blazers.
“I was excited to get Doris back and that was nothing against (the
Reutlingers),” Bonner said. “I worked with (Doris) . . . and I’m comfortable
with her.”
Bonner said it was “the same” with Gord Loiselle, the director of player
personnel who was fired last week. Loiselle had been hired by Clark last
“I like Gord,” Bonner said. “It’s just that he’s not my guy.”
It’s expected that Matt Recchi eventually will fill that spot.
“He’s up there,” Bonner said of Recchi. “I trust him and I know he’s going
to work his (butt) off.”
Bonner hasn’t spoken with Recchi, who scouts for the Pittsburgh Penguins,
and isn’t expected to until after the NHL draft, which goes June 20-21 in
As for the Blazers’ scouting staff, Bonner said he has contacted all of them
either personally or by e-mail. He has asked all of them to “put some
thought into whether you want to remain with the team.”
“Obviously,” he added, “that is going to be up to the new head (scout). . .
. But no one has called me and said ‘I’m out.’ “
p p p
If you tried to access the Blazers’ website yesterday, chances are you got
this message: “This website is currently being updated, please check back
later, thanks.”
It turns out that hackers got into the website, so the Blazers shut it down.
“It was hacked and our people behind the scenes are working on restoring it
as soon as possible,” Kirk Fraser, the Blazers’ media man, explained.

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