Wednesday, 3 August 2011

McCrimmon Out, Clouston In

Cory Clouston
The Kelly McCrimmon era with the Brandon Wheat Kings is over.

At least from a coaching standpoint.

McCrimmon announced today that has is stepping down as head coach, with former Ottawa Senators' head coach Cory Clouston taking over behind the bench.

"I said before that there would be a time that we'd go back to the more traditional structure with the full-time coach and general manager being two different people," said McCrimmon at a media conference on Wednesday afternoon, "I thought about it a year ago, but with the transition I felt our team was going to go through, I didn't feel it was fair at that time to bring a person in...this time, again, it's timing. Things have to line up and come together and Cory's availability is what gave this decision legs."

McCrimmon compiled a 294-177-35 record over last seven-plus seasons, taking over the coaching reins with six games to go in the 2003-2004 season.

Enter Cory Clouston, who compiled a 209-114-37 record (.632 winning percentage) in five seasons as head coach of the WHL's Kootenay Ice from 2002-2007, and most recently was the head coach of the NHL's Ottawa Senators.

"To me, it's about the organization," said Clouston, "I was fortunate enough to work for the Kootenay Ice and, to me, there's only a handful of teams that you can categorize in that group and Brandon is one of those when you look at their past history, their past record and their tradition."

"I think he's a really good fit for our team, he's proven in our league," said McCrimmon, "He's got the ability to really get a lot out of players and his teams and in the four years he coached professionally has really made him a better coach."

After leaving Kootenay in 2007, Clouston spent 1 1/2 seasons as head coach of the AHL's Binghamton Senators before being elevated to the head coaching position with the Ottawa Senators on February 2, 2009, following the firing of Craig Hartsburg.

He compiled a 95-83-20 in 2 1/2 seasons with the Sens before being relieved of his duties at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

Clouston says there were some opportunities as an assistant with NHL teams as well as some AHL head coaching positions that he looked into but couldn't come up with the right fit.

That's when his attention turned to the WHL and the Wheat Kings.

"I was prepared to sit out, and wait and see if something changed during the season and next spring, when things started to unfold again," said Clouston, "When Kelly (McCrimmon) and I spoke last week, the decision was fairly simple or fairly easy. I've known and respected Kelly for years...I think we see things very similar, I think he values the same things that I value. We may have different approaches to coaching, but I think we look at the game very similar so it wasn't a difficult decision regarding that."

McCrimmon's 330 career coaching victories rank second (behind Bob Lowes) on the Wheat Kings' all-time list, and I asked the outgoing coach what he thought he'd miss most about coaching.

"Probably game nights. That's the closest you get to playing the game is coaching the game, and you have a different perspective as a coach than you do as a manager. I coached seven years and never planned on coaching at all," said McCrimmon, "I'm excited about channelling my efforts to other areas of the organization and look forward to doing that."

In addition to the McCrimmon/Clouston announced, the Wheat Kings also announced that Darren Ritchie will be a full-time assistant coach in 2011-2012 after four seasons as a part-time assistant coach while Grant Ammann is the club's new athletic therapist, taking over for Cam McGhee. McGhee left in the spring to continue his education at the University of Manitoba.

Chaff...the rest of the Wheat Kings' staff remains unchanged, with Dwayne Gylywoychuk back for another season as assistant coach, Matt Cockell will return for his fifth season as Goaltending Coach of the WHL club and Jim Frederickson will be back for his ninth season as Strength and Conditioning Coach...the Wheat Kings also announced Wednesday that they've sold 2,317 season tickets for the 2011-2012 season.




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