You need a head coach . . . and you need a head coach . . . you don’t need a general manager . . . you do need a GM . . . sounds like you have a new logo. Oh, and your arena has a new name . . .
Such was life in the WHL on a busy Monday.
Bob Tory, the part-owner, governor and general manager of the Tri-City Americans, got the day started by announcing that head coach Kelly Buchberger’s contract isn’t being renewed.
Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted what some people no doubt were thinking: “The arrival of Don Nachbaur was a sure sign a move was imminent.”
Buchberger, 54, was named the Americans’ head coach in July 2018. He replaced Mike Williamson, who had left the organization the previous month after four seasons as head coach. Buchberger had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders before joining the Americans.
Nachbaur, 62, was the Americans’ head coach for six seasons (2003-09). After spending one season and five games of another coaching in Europe, Nachbaur returned to the Americans on Feb. 18 as associate coach under Buchberger.
Nachbaur began his WHL coaching career with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1994-95. All told, he has spent 19 seasons as a WHL head coach, splitting time with the Thunderbirds, Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He is a three-time winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s coach of the year, winning once in each of his stops.
Nachbaur is the WHL’s third-winningest head coach, with 692 regular-season victories, second only to Don Hay (750) and Ken Hodge (742).
Tory has been the Americans’ GM since 2000-01 and also owns part of the franchise, along with former players Stu Barnes and Olaf Kozig, and area businessman Dennis Loman. They purchased the team from Brian Burke, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather in April 2005.
Meanwhile, in Saskatoon, the Blades are looking for a head coach after Mitch Love joined the NHL’s Calgary Flames as head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat.
Love, 37, spent the past three seasons as the Blades’ head coach, putting up a 95-44-16 regular-season record.
Love also was an assistant coach with Canada’s last two entries in the IIHF World Junior Championship, winning gold and silver, and with Canada’s U18 team at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Love was an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips for seven seasons (2011-18) before joining the Blades as head coach.
In Stockton, Love takes over from Cail MacLean, who was added to the Flames’ coaching staff over the summer. MacLean had taken over the Heat from former Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Huska, who has been on the Flames’ staff for three seasons now.
The Blades reported that associate coach Ryan Marsh and goaltender coach Jeff Harvey will remain with the team, “as will all support staff.” The Blades also are looking to hire one more assistant coach.
Also on Monday morning, Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reported that “sources confirm that Dennis Williams will become the Silvertips’ full-time general manager.” Williams, who also is Everett’s head coach, had been serving as interim GM since the club parted ways with Garry Davidson.
The Silvertips made Williams’ promotion official later in the day.
Davidson had been the GM for nine seasons when the club announced on May 20 that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, citing an ongoing restructuring of hockey operations necessitated by the past two seasons.
Davidson was introduced by the Calgary Hitmen as their new director of player personnel on June 10. He replaced Dallas Thompson, who left the organization on May 26.
Williams, 41, is preparing for his fifth season as Everett’s head coach. On Feb. 12, 2020, the Silvertips signed him to an extension that runs through the 2022-23 season. On Monday, the team announced that it had signed him to a “multi-year contract extension.”
Meanwhile, in Kamloops, the Blazers remain without a general manager following the departure of Matt Bardsley, whose last day with them was June 30. He left the Blazers after three seasons as GM and with three years left on his contract. Bardsley and his family have returned to Portland. He now is an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
All signs seem to point to head coach Shaun Clouston taking on the dual role of GM/head coach in Kamloops. He spent seven seasons doing both jobs with the Medicine Hat Tigers before being replaced by Willie Desjardins prior to the 2019-20 season. Clouston, 53, then signed with the Blazers.
The process in Kamloops will have been slowed by the death of Don Moores, the organization’s president and chief operating officer. Moores, 65, died of an apparent heart attack while golfing on June 30. A celebration of life is to be held today (Tuesday), 1 p.m., at the Sandman Centre with capacity limited to 2,500.
In Portland, the Winterhawks will hold a news conference on Wednesday morning at which they will announce the beginning of a rebrand that is going to mean a new logo.
“Portland’s hockey franchise needed a set of jerseys in 1976,” writes The Oregonian coumnist John Canzano. “The Chicago Blackhawks had a pile of used ones. Don’t know if you know this, but the Winterhawks’ biggest acquisition in that inaugural season was to accept the donation of an old set of Blackhawks’ jerseys.
The iconic Illinois Sauk Nation figure made the trip to Portland on the chest, where it’s been squatting for 45 years.”
The Winterhawks, of course, now have new owners, so things are about to change in a big, big way.
Canzano’s column is right here.
And that brings us to Red Deer where the Rebels’ home has a new name. That arena, which is located in Westerner Park, was named the Peavey Mart Centrium on Monday. The two parties have agreed on a five-year sponsorship deal. No financial terms were revealed. . . . The Peavey Mart Centrium is to be home to, among other things, part of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Peavey Industries, which has its head office in Red Deer, also becomes an “official agricultural supply partner” to Westerner Park. . . . The Centrium hadn’t had a name sponsor since a contract with Enmax expired a few years ago.
Zach Johnson tested positive before getting on a charter flight that was carrying golfers to the British Open that is to open on Thursday at Royal St. George’s. Johnson, who won the Open in 2015, will end a run of having started in 69 consecutive majors. . . . Interestingly, Johnson played in the John Deer Classic that wrapped up Sunday in Illinois. . . . Louis de Jager of South Africa, a local qualifier, also has tested positive and was forced to withdraw from the Open. . . . Among others who will be missing are Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama, who tested positive on July 2 and again since then, and two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson, who withdrew after being in close contact with someone who tested positive.
Bianca Andreescu of Canada announced on social media Monday that she won’t play tennis at the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. The Games are scheduled to open on July 23. . . . “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl,” she wrote, “but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.”
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JUST NOTES: Dean Chynoweth, a former WHL player, GM and coach, has signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Chynoweth, 52, replaces Dave Hakstol, who left Toronto to become the first head coach of the expansion Seattle Kraken. Chynoweth had been with the Carolina Hurricanes for the previous three seasons after a season as an associate coach with the Vancouver Giants.