Ryan McGill has found a new den.
The former Kootenay Ice bench boss was announced as the new head coach of the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League Tuesday morning.
“First off, I would like to thank [Attack general manager] Dale DeGray and the ownership group for the opportunity to be a part of this very successful franchise,” McGill, 46, said in a team release. “I am looking forward to coming in and helping to continue the tradition of success and to work closely with Dale and the rest of the Attack staff in achieving that success both on and off the ice.”
The Attack finished fourth in the OHL’s Midwest Division, going 35-24-2-7 under former coach Greg Ireland, who resigned from his position on Saturday, July 18, to take on the head coaching position with Adler Mannheim of the German Elite Hockey League.
In Owen Sound, McGill inherits a roster that includes NHL prospects Zach Nastasiuk (Detroit Red Wings) and Chris Bigras (Colorado Avalanche), though both 1995-born skaters stand to turn pro in 2015.
Attack defenceman Thomas Schemitsch (Florida Panthers) and forward Liam Dunda (St. Louis Blues) were also selections at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
After two stints with the Kootenay Ice (1997-98 to 2001-02, 2012-13 to 2014-15), a Memorial Cup championship (2002) and a pair of WHL titles (2000 and 2002), McGill and the Ice mutually parted ways upon the expiry of his contract on June 30.
“Every coach has a shelf life,” said Jeff Chynoweth, Kootenay Ice president and general manager, on April 16 after the announcement of McGill’s departure. “I just look at the way our team is and the way we’re turning over for next year. We’re going to be one of the youngest teams in the league and I just think we need a new voice.”
Under McGill, a native of Sherwood Park, Alta., the Ice went 37-31-1-3 through the 2014-15 season, finishing fourth in the WHL’s Central Division before falling to the Calgary Hitmen in a seven-game, first-round thriller.
“To get a head coach of Ryan’s calibre, in the time frame we were working under is unbelievable,” DeGray said. “Ryan brings with him a wealth of experience and success, both at the professional and junior levels. He’s a competitor who knows how to win. Our organization is extremely lucky to have him.
“He has been a part of three of the smaller markets in the Canadian Hockey League. Performing in a small market in front of a very loyal fan base will be nothing new to him and something he is comfortable with. The man knows how to win.”
In eight total season in Cranbrook, McGill registered a career regular-season coaching record of 280-222-53. He was also named the WHL Coach of the Year after the 2012-13 season and served as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Apart from his time with the Ice, McGill has toured the professional hockey world, serving seven seasons as a head coach in the American Hockey League (Hartford, 2002-03 to 2004-05; Omaha/Quad City, 2005-06 to 2008-09) before joining the NHL’s Calgary Flames as an assistant coach for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
Prior to his coaching career, McGill was a second-round selection (29th overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks at the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to play 151 NHL games after a 260-game WHL playing career (Lethbridge, Swift Current, Medicine Hat).
In addition to the hiring of McGill, the Attack also announced the hiring Derek King, another former NHL player, as assistant coach.
King, 48, played 830 NHL games before spending the past six seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
McGill isn’t the first former Kootenay Ice coach to fly east for the OHL.
Kris Knoblauch, Ice head coach from 2010-11 to 2011-12, took over the Erie Otters on Nov. 29, 2012.