Monday, July 20, 2009

Coaches To Consider: Calgary & Tri City

Calgary and Tri City have coaching positions still available. The 7th and 8th that have come open this year. Swift Current, Prince George, Everett, Chilliwack, Regina and Lethbridge filled their spots.

So who's up for the final 2 spots? Here's a few names to consider.

The Calgary Hitmen might be zoning in on John Van Boxmeer. The one time first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens didn't have the greatest playing career but has been a head coach several times since retiring. He was the bench boss for the Rochester Americans of the AHL as well as the Long Beach Ice Dogs. He as the assistant with Buffalo and LA in the NHL, and was recently coaching in Switzerland. He reportedly suffered a heart attack in 2008 but word is recovered fully and might be a target for Hitmen G.M. Kelly Kisio to replace Dave Lowry who joined the Flames as an assistant.

Tri City lost Don Nachbaur to the AHL's Binghamton Senators and I'm told G.M. Bob Tory wants to fill Nachbaur's shoes very quickly. In Nachbaur's 6 seasons the Americans went to the playoffs each year and won 2 division titles so whoever replaces him will have a streak to keep up. Tory will have no shortage of interested candidates. Here are the names I'm hearing floating around the coaches waiting room. Mike Williamson spent 13 seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, the last 8 as the head coach. He was let go in 2007 and launched a civil law suit against the Hawks for breach of contract. I'm not sure if that plays into him getting a future job or now.

John Becanic put up a .500 record in 2 seasons with Everett before being let go this year and being replaced by Craig Hartsburg, Becanic like most coaches is hoping to get back in the game as soon as possible.

Drew Schoneck is hoping to swap one Tri City for another. He's currently the head coach and G.M. for the Tri City Storm of the USHL, but a return to the Americans is probably what he's really looking for. Schoneck was an assistant with the Am's in 2001 and I'm told his wife is from the area, making it an even more attractive option. Schoneck was the head coach with Prince George, but apparently wasn't happy in the city.

Greg Gatto is a wildcard, but the first former player to coach Lethbridge in the CIS.

Another one now from the school ranks, but south of the border now. John Hill has spent the last 4 years as an Assistant to Don Lucia with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Before that he was the head coach in Alaska with the Sea Wolves. In fact Hill has spent his entire career behind the bench with NCAA schools, but might be ready to take on junior hockey up north.

Finally, Mike Vandenberghe's name is starting to pop up when I've talked to people. And the former coach of the Notre Dame Hounds might have an interesting bargaining chip. Vandenberghe coached Jaden Schwartz in Wilcox and Tri City has been trying to convince Schwartz to join the Americans rather than the Colorado College Tigers of the NCAA, where he's committed for the 2010 season. Schwartz lit up the SJHL with 76 points in 46 games this year and was very good for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Camrose last year. If Vandenberge could deliver Schwartz to Tri City it might be worth a coaching position.


Anonymous said...

Now that the Oklahoma City Blazers have folded, Doug Sauter is looking for a job...

Dean Millard said...

Interesting. He could coach against his nephew Hardy who is in Spokane. Doug is also a former WHL coach having led the Calgary Wranglers, Medicine Hat Tigers, Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings for several years. I haven't heard his name come up but it's an interesting one.