Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kelowna's "Rocket Man"

The search for the next head coach of the prestigious Kelowna Rockets has been underway for a few weeks now, and there has been some speculation on who the target for General Manager Bruce Hamilton is as he was quoted in an article saying that their's a "guy" out there that he's waiting to speak to. One would take from that this unknown covet is the leading candidate for the job, but what I'm going to do is list five names who I have an inkling about and would be reasonable fits for an organization that again is on the precipice of fielding a Western Hockey League contender. As a pre-cursor, I'm listing the candidates alphabetically by last name.

Marc Crawford- With the following scenario, I foresee Crawford being the man for this position. Crawford currently hoists the head coaching position of the ZSC Lions in Switzerland. He's made no secret that he strives to be given another look in the National Hockey League and I think he's becoming quite angst with the fact that a direct flight from Switzerland may not land him back in the big show. What I believe could happen is Crawford will tender his resignation in Europe under the principle that Kelowna negotiates with the player who was set to play for him in the Swiss league, that being Auston Matthews. Negotiations will have to be held with his Western Hockey League rights holder the Everett Silvertips, but both player and coach may view this as an one and done scenario with using the inevitable success that would take place as a tactic to the National Hockey League:
                      Likelihood of coming percentage: 80%

Danny Flynn- The longtime coach of the Moncton Wildcats I'm told is the front runner, or was the front runner based off of my baseless speculation of Marc Crawford coming to town. Flynn and Hamilton have been in contact for the position, and Flynn's success in the QMJHL coupled by the fact that he's had a penchant for developing future NHL stars including David Savard and Brandon Gormley which will enlighten confidence in Hamilton because one of the primary responsibilities for the hired head coach will be to oversee the continued development of budding superstars Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley. Flynn has garnered the reputation of a disciplinarian but because Kelowna will have savvy junior veterans in the locker room, enforcing discipline will be a non-entity in that locker room.

                      Likelihood of coming percentage:60%

Ryan McGill- Due to a plethora of Western Hockey League experience, I'll label McGill as the safe choice for the head coaching duties in Kelowna. During his most recent Kootenay Ice tenure, McGill simply didn't  get enough out of the veteran group which included Sam Reinhart but had a tangible amount of more success in his first stop to Cranbrook back in the late nineties/early two thousands which consummated in a Western Hockey League Championship. The advantage with choosing McGill among other reasons is his extreme familiarity with the players, including the Rockets because he was involved with the league last season.  A statistic working in his favour is that other than his first season employed by the then Edmonton Ice, every other season he's coached he's finished with a record above .500 which bodes well for a Kelowna organization that will have championship aspirations once

                    Likelihood of coming percentage:80%

Jason Smith- The current assistant coach of the Ottawa Senators would certainly be an innovative choice for Hamilton as this rugged former blue liner may lack a true Head coaching repertoire but has accumulated the reputation of being a tremendous leader which  was harpened under the tutelage of Ottawa Senators bench boss Dave Cameron. With the aforementioned Chartier and Merkley leading the way offensively it may fancy Hamilton to go in a more defensive direction. Devante Stephens, as clearly laid out when I published my WHL team previews has the making of being a legitimate star in this league, and quite frankly the National Hockey League as well. What better way to acclimatize Stephens to the professional jaunt then having Smith overlook his development.

                    Likelihood of coming percentage: 40%

Trent Yawney- An accomplished player in his own right now boasts quite the colorful coaching resume. During his Chicago Blackhawk playing days, he had the privilege playing under Iron Mike Keenan which would've taught him the importance of accountability, a trait that he can use in a game of junior hockey that he has yet to dip into.  Being a Western Canadian haling from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan  and a Saskatoon Blade alumni he's fully aware of the rigors a young lad fights through during long bus rides and I firmly believe when you combine his National Hockey League playing and coaching experience, he'll be able to understand the issues of today's game and be an accommodating coach, someone these Kelowna Rockets will thoroughly enjoy playing for.

                     Likelihood of coming percentage: 65%

In summary, based off of what I know and what I anticipate as being the best organizational line of thinking, when it's all said and done expect Marc Crawford to be named head coach with Danny Flynn being a satisfiable back-up on the presumption that the two sides can agree on a contract. If these two avenues come to dead ends, expect Hamilton to resort to a WHL mastermind in Ryan McGill.


Brett Murray



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