Jon Klemm steps away from Spokane Chiefs

WHL assistant coach cites family reasons in departure from team.

Spokane Chiefs assistant coach Jon Klemm has stepped away from his position with the team, citing family reasons, according to a team press release.

Klemm, a Cranbrook native who has been with the Chiefs for the last four years, will return to Dallas upon getting married this summer. His four teenage children live in Chicago.

“I will get more opportunities to see my kids and see my son play hockey,” said Klemm in a press release. “I haven’t seen him play in three years. This move gives me flexibility in the winter months.”

Klemm is a former professional hockey player with an 18-year career in the AHL and NHL and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. The defenceman retired in 2009 and promptly joined his former major-junior club as an assistant coach.

“This was a great experience,” said Klemm. “When you’re a player and play as long as I did, to make the transition to coaching is an eye opener. As a player, you’re at the rink a few hours a day and you don’t realize the work that goes into it. I enjoyed my time here and learned a lot.

“It was a lot of fun to be a part of and see these kids grow, improve and get better. To be around the players and see them get to the next level was great.”

In his four-year tenure as assistant coach, the Chiefs have had a record of 175-91-14-8, alongside head coach Don Nachbaur for the last three years, and former bench boss Hardy Sauter in his first season.

“I’m sad to see Jon go,” said Nachbaur. “I want to personally thank him for all the hard work with our team. He made individuals better people and players and I’m going to miss him for that. He helped develop our kids on a daily basis.”

Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz shared the same sentiment.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Jon both as a player and now a coach. He has been fantastic for our organization. We understand and respect his decision to move and be more available to his family.”

A trio of players under Klemm’s tutelage—Jared Spurgeon, Jared Cowen and Tyler Johnson—have advanced from their major-junior careers into the professional ranks with NHL clubs.

Klemm recalls the playoff run in 2011 as one of the biggest moments of his coaching stint with the club, which ended with a third-round loss to the Portland Winterhawks.

“We got the best out of that group,” Klemm said. “…We just couldn’t get over one little hill. That situation is what makes the game so great, that fine line between winning and losing. I thought we were successful; just fell a little short in the end.