Change for any organization can be either productive for both parties or it could turn out to be a mistake for both parties, but only time will tell.
With the trading deadline fast approaching for Junior hockey, we are hearing that the West Kelowna Warriors and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks have made coaching changes in hopes of possibly making a playoff run.
The Warriors announced that Brandon West has been relieved of his duties as Head Coach and G/M effective immediately.
Taking over behind the bench as the Interim Head Coach is Simon Ferguson who was the bench boss for the past two years with the Okanagan Rockets of the BCMML and in the stage of arranging the trip to the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary, which is now out of the equation.
Owners John Murphy and Rod Hume issued a press release stating “We want to thank Brandon West for his efforts as our Coach and GM. He is a true professional and we wish him the very best in the future. This decision is about becoming a better hockey club now and in the future. We are charting a new course and building a new culture. Simon Ferguson has impressed us with his ability to lead, his hockey acumen, and his energy. We expect our players to respond well to his leadership and we look forward to supporting him in every way.”
Ferguson on the other hand brings a wealth of experience as he was able to host a Memorial Cup with the WHL Kelowna Rockets as well as an Calder Cup with the AHL Portland Pirates.
From there the next ten years he played for a variety of pro teams throughout Europe and North America.
President Chris Laurie told the media “With more than a third of the season left, we owe it to our players and fans to make a push to turn this season around. Our players understand the challenge ahead and embrace the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot. We are excited to give Simon Ferguson the opportunity to lead this hockey team and see if he can spark the group.”
The West Kelowna Warriors finalized his contract with him on Christmas Eve making him the club’s fourth head coach in the past 16 months of operation.
Changes were needed and it was either move players or make the coach the scapegoat in this case mostly the Warriors sit in the basement of the 17-team BCHL with just seven wins in 37 games.
Ferguson earlier this week he mentioned “I’m excited for the opportunity. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, so boots to the ground” and as we can understand start by earning the trust and confidence of the 23 players.
Ferguson says over the course of his 10-year professional career, he went through coaching changes where some players were happy with the move while some others were not.
He went on to mention “When I come in, there will be some happy kids and some unhappy kids and my job is to communicate and get everyone on the same page so we can all move forward in our careers the right way.”
Ferguson has been behind the bench the past six years after ending a 10-year professional career that included a Calder Cup title with the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League.
He will also be aided along the way by current assistant coach Ayrton Nikkel and former Kelowna Rocket teammate Josh Gorges, who will lend a hand.
In addition Salmon Arm have released Scott Atkinson of his head coaching duties, effective immediately
Silverback GM Brooks Christensen mentioned “We want to thank Scotty for his commitment to the Silverbacks organization. Scotty left a lasting impression on all of Salmon Arm Minor Hockey and helped grow our connection with the Salmon Arm community.”
He continued “At this time, Tyler Shattock will assume the role of interim head coach and as one would expect and has the organization’s full support in his new position.”
Atkinson was hired by the Silverbacks June 1st 2017 and managed a record of 72-69-8-2-1 in his two and a half seasons behind the bench.
This season, Salmon Arm began the year 19-6-1 before falling into a 1-8-1 slide leading into the winter break.
As the deadline fast approaches we’ll see if these moves help or hinder either club.