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New coaches, management staff set for 2017-18 season

 

#OHLOpeningWeek is upon us and the 2017-18 season is about to get underway.

Eight new general managers, nine newly appointed head coaches and a number of other staff getting adjusted to new positions are ready to drop the puck on the new campaign.

Here’s a look at some of the hockey operations moves from across the league throughout this past offseason.

BARRIE COLTS: The Barrie Colts have brought in former defenceman and Ottawa Senators draft pick Jan Platil as an assistant coach to oversee the club’s defence this season. The 34-year-old played three seasons in Barrie from 2000-03.

Additionally, the Colts have hired NHL netminding great Billy Smith to serve as the club’s Director of Goaltending. Smith, who won four consecutive Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders from 1980-83 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1994. He’ll oversee the development of Colts goaltenders Leo Lazarev, Christian Propp and Kai Edmonds.

These moves fill a void left by outgoing assistant coach and goaltending coach Mike Rosati who accepted a position as an amateur goaltending consultant with the Vegas Golden Knights.

ERIE OTTERS: After leading the Otters to an OHL title last spring, former OHL Coach of the Year Kris Knoblauch accepted an assistant coaching position with the Philadelphia Flyers. Replacing him is former Otters assistant coach Chris Hartsburg.

The son of former long-time OHL head coach Craig Hartsburg, Chris spent the past three seasons coaching the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. The 37-year-old former pro who spent time in the American Hockey League and Central Hockey League will work alongside associate coach B.J. Adams and assistant Wes Wolfe this season.

Additionally, long-time Otters Director of Scouting Scott Halpenny accepted an amateur scouting position with the Buffalo Sabres this past summer.

FLINT FIREBIRDS: With former general manager George Burnett taking a new position in Guelph, the Firebirds appointed Barclay Branch as the club’s new GM. Branch, who spent the past two seasons as general manager of the Sudbury Wolves, also served as assistant general manager and director of player personnel with the Belleville Bulls for 11 seasons.

With the departure of veterans Alex Peters, Mathieu Henderson and Jalen Smereck from the blue line, the Firebirds brought in new associate coach Paul Flache, an OHL graduate, to work with young defenders.

The Firebirds have also named former NHL netminder Greg Stefan as the club’s new goaltending coach.

GUELPH STORM: Twenty-year OHL coaching veteran George Burnett returns to the bench this season, taking on the role of head coach and GM of the Guelph Storm after a year with the Flint Firebirds.

Joining Burnett is associate coach Jake Grimes who will oversee the defence. Grimes, who served as Burnett’s assistant coach for 11 years in Belleville, spent the past two seasons with the Peterborough Petes.

The Storm also named long-time Storm staff member Phil Golding as the club’s assistant general manager while Wade Branch has been appointed to the role of head scout.

Former assistant coach and OHL graduate Todd Harvey moves into an amateur scouting role with the Vancouver Canucks.

HAMILTON BULLDOGS: After spending parts of the past three seasons as the head coach of the Sudbury Wolves, David Matsos will serve as an associate coach alongside John Gruden in Hamilton. Matsos has been coaching in the league since 2010, initially working as an assistant coach with the Windsor Spitfires.

The Bulldogs also named former Saginaw Spirit head scout Ian Meagher as the club’s new assistant general manager following the conclusion of last season.

KINGSTON FRONTENACS: With Paul McFarland taking an assistant coaching position alongside Bob Boughner with the Florida Panthers, the Kingston Frontenacs had a bit of an offseason shakeup in the hockey operations department.

New head coach Jay Varady takes over behind the bench following four years spent with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. Varady has past WHL coaching experience after serving as an associate coach with the Everett Silvertips from 2003-11.

The Fronts also brought in former Peterborough Petes assistant coach and OHL graduate Kurtis Foster in an assistant coaching capacity where he’ll oversee things in the blue line.

Foster replaces former Fronts assistant Jason Supryka who joined the Los Angeles Kings organization as a pro scout.

In the front office, Doug Gilmour has moved into the position of team president, giving way to long-time assistant GM Darren Keily to take over as the club’s general manager.

Lastly, Frontenacs head scout Jeff McKercher accepted an amateur scouting position with the St. Louis Blues. OHL graduate Aaron Van Leusen replaces him in leading up Kingston’s scouting operations.

KITCHENER RANGERS: Former assistant coach and assistant general manager Mike McKenzie moved into the GM’s chair during last year’s playoffs as Murray Hiebert remains in the organization as director of hockey operations.

The Rangers added an assistant coach in Swedish national Andreas Karlsson, a former forward with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

LONDON KNIGHTS: The London Knights named OHL graduate and London native Colin MacDonald as the club’s new assistant general manager over the summer. He takes over for departing assistant GM Jake Goldberg who has joined the Arizona Coyotes as their director of hockey operations.

MISSISSAUGA STEELHEADS: After a successful first season behind the bench as head coach in Mississauga, James Richmond has added general manager duties to his job description for 2017-18. Outgoing GM James Boyd has taken a position with the Ottawa 67’s, giving way to Richmond who promoted assistant coach Jeff Kyrzakos and hockey operations staff member Michael Doyle to the position of assistant general manager.

Former video coach and OHL graduate Brendan Taylor has been promoted to an assistant coaching position.

NIAGARA ICEDOGS: After operating under the title of director of player personnel last season, Joey Burke was officially named general manager of the Niagara IceDogs in late April. Burke has been in a management position with the IceDogs since 2010 when he began serving as the club’s assistant general manager.

Additionally, older brother Billy Burke has been named the head coach of the IceDogs, taking over for Dave Bell who is now an assistant coach with the AHL’s Ontario Reign. An OHL graduate, Burke has been with the organization since 2009, serving as an assistant coach for eight seasons.

The IceDogs have also named former American Hockey League head coach Ted Dent as the club’s new associate coach. Dent was head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks’ affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, for six seasons following a five-year tenure as an assistant coach.

NORTH BAY BATTALION: The North Bay Battalion have added North Bay Centennials graduate Scott Wray as an assistant coach. Wray has served as the head coach of the club’s NOJHL affiliate, the Powassan Voodoos for the past three seasons, leading them to a league championship in 2016-17. He replaces John Dean who has been named the head coach of the OJHL’s Toronto Patriots.

OTTAWA 67’s: The summer brought big changes in Ottawa as former head coach and general manager Jeff Brown stepped down from his post at the conclusion of last season.

Replacing him in the GM’s chair is long-time Mississauga Steelheads architect James Boyd who also has past OHL head coaching experience. Boyd, who played for the 67’s during the 1994-95 season, has been coaching in the league since 1999, also spending time with the Belleville Bulls and Toronto St. Michael’s Majors.

Behind the bench, veteran coach Andre Tourigny takes the reins in Ottawa. The 43-year-old was involved with the QMJHL since 1998, spending 12 seasons in capacities as both a head coach and general manager between Rouyn-Noranda and Halifax. He also spent three seasons in the NHL from 2013-16, serving as an assistant coach for both the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators.

The 67’s made a trio of other coaching additions, bringing in former QMJHL head coach Mario Duhamel and OHL scoring sensation Norm Milley as assistants under Tourigny.

Toronto St. Michael’s Majors graduate Andy Chiodo takes over as goaltending coach in Ottawa.

In other management additions, the 67’s named Jan Egert, formerly of the Mississauga Steelheads, as the club’s assistant general manager. Derek Miller has been named director of player development and performance.

OWEN SOUND ATTACK: With the departure of 2017 OHL Coach of the Year Ryan McGill to the Vegas Golden Knights, former Kingston Frontenacs head coach Todd Gill takes over behind the bench in Owen Sound.

A long-time NHL defenceman, Gill coached the Frontenacs from 2011-14 and spent the past three campaigns as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Adirondack Flames and Stockton Heat.

Joining Gill as an assistant coach on the bench is former OHL blueliner Jordan Hill who recently announced his retirement following a seven-year professional career.

PETERBOROUGH PETES: With a pair of assistant coaching vacancies, the Petes brought in former OHL winger Mike Duco who played with the Kitchener Rangers from 2003-08.

Duco spent last season as head coach and director of hockey operations of the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals following an eight-year pro career.

Additionally, the Petes appointed former long-time pro defenceman Derrick Walser to oversee the back end. The CHL’s defenceman of the year in 1998, Walser spent the past nine years of his lengthy career playing in Europe.

SAGINAW SPIRIT: Troy Smith is back as a head coach in the OHL, replacing Spencer Carbery in Saginaw who now serves as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.

Smith, who coached the Kitchener Rangers from 2013-15 and spent parts of two seasons as an associate coach with the Hamilton Bulldogs, returns to the state where he played his OHL hockey as a member of the Plymouth Whalers from 1995-99.

Joining Smith on the bench is another OHL grad in Ryan Kuwabara who had been the head coach of the GOJHL’s Ancaster Avalanche since 2013. Kuwabara played with the Ottawa 67’s from 1989-92 and was a second round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 1990. He represented Japan in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Kuwabara fills a void left by long-time Spirit assistant coach and assistant GM John Kisil who accepted a scouting job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Spirit also hired a new goaltending coach over the summer, appointing A.J. Walczak to the position. The Wixom, MI, native has had a part in working with such goaltenders as Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrei Vasilevskiy and London Knights graduate Tyler Parsons.

SARNIA STING: Having announced his retirement from the NHL, former OHL Rookie of the Year and Red Tilson Trophy recipient David Legwand is joining the Sarnia Sting as an associate coach.  A co-owner of the club with head coach Derian Hatcher, Legwand steps behind the bench following a 1136-game NHL career that spanned 16 seasons.

The Sting have also hired OHL graduate Cory Campbell as a goaltending coach. Campbell led the Belleville Bulls to an OHL championship in 1999, doing so in his rookie season. He was named the most outstanding goaltender of the 1999 Mastercard Memorial Cup.

SUDBURY WOLVES: The Sudbury Wolves have a new look behind the bench and in the front office.

Long-time NHL scorer Cory Stillman returns to the OHL after graduating from the league with the Peterborough Petes in 1993. Two Stanley Cups later, Stillman is stepping behind the bench in Sudbury to lead a young Wolves club eager to climb in the Eastern Conference standings.

Working alongside Stillman is former OHL defender Jordan Smith who joins the Wolves as associate coach. Smith spent the last four seasons as the head coach of the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds.

Rob Papineau takes over as general manager in Sudbury after spending last season as the club’s VP of hockey operations. The former OHL forward had a prior connection to Stillman during his days as an amateur scout in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

Wolves graduate Alain Valiquette takes over operations in the crease. Valiquette, who spent four seasons in Sudbury from 2007-11, will serve as the team’s goaltending coach.

WINDSOR SPITFIRES: Mastercard Memorial Cup champion Rocky Thompson has moved on to become the head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, making way for Trevor Letowski as his replacement.

A prolific scorer during his OHL playing days in Sarnia, Letowski coached the Sting over parts of three seasons until 2015. He spent the last two years as an associate coach in Windsor, helping the Spits execute a record-setting penalty kill last season. He played parts of nine NHL seasons from 1998-2008.

The Spits also hired former Oshawa Generals head scout Frank Evola, naming him as the club’s director of scouting and hockey operations. Evola played a part in putting together the 2015 Mastercard Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals.

Perry Wilson has been named the new goaltending coach in Windsor as he takes over for Jim Bedard who has joined the Dallas Stars. Wilson served as the goaltending coach of the GOJHL’s LaSalle Vipers from 2008-15.

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