Thursday, 22 September 2011

Clouston Begins Wheat Kings Coaching Career

For the first time in seven years, the Brandon Wheat Kings open the Western Hockey League regular season with a different head coach behind the bench.

Cory Clouston will make his Wheat Kings' coaching debut Thursday night when Brandon visits the Moose Jaw Warriors (8:10 p.m., CKLQ).

Clouston was officially hired on August 3rd, taking over the coaching reins from Kelly McCrimmon, who stepped back into his full-time General Manager role.

Clouston, 42, spent the past four seasons coaching professional hockey including the past 2 1/2 seasons as head coach of the NHL's Ottawa Senators.

Previous to that, he recorded 209 wins in five seasons as head coach of the WHL's Kootenay Ice from 2002 to 2007.

He believes the last four years in the pro game have made him a better coach.

"Just the experience of going up against the best coaches in the World, seeing how they prepare their teams, watching how they practice, working with the best athletes in the world and working with good people as well," said Clouston, "When you surround yourself in that environment, you're going to become a better coach."

After he was hired, Clouston admitted that there were some other opportunities during the summer to become an assistant coach in the NHL or go back to a head coaching job in the AHL, but he couldn't come up with the right fit.

He thinks Brandon is a good fit for him and his family.

"Hockey-wise, it's a winning organization. I knew they had a very good staff, as well is working for and with Kelly (McCrimmon). I've respected Kelly for years and we've been able to build a good relationship over time," says Clouston, "Off ice, it's a community that I like the size. I have a young family, and we felt it was real good thing for them and, also, my parents live 2 1/2 hours away."

Clouston became a father to a baby girl over the summer, and he says it's been nice for 'grandma and grandpa' to be close by and get to see her.

Chaff...Clouston's .632 winning percentage in the 11th-best in WHL history -- fifth-best when you eliminate coaches that spent less than two years in the league...Clouston, who was the WHL and CHL Coach of the Year in 2005, spent four seasons playing at the University of Alberta, and was a member of the 1991–92 Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship squad.

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