When the puck drops on the 2015-16 WHL season, there will be a fresh face behind the bench for the Kootenay Ice.
After three seasons calling the shots, head coach Ryan McGill is on the way out after he and the team mutually agreed to part ways upon the expiration of his contract June 30, 2015.
“Every coach has a shelf life,” said Jeff Chynoweth, Kootenay Ice president and general manager, Thursday morning. “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.”
The search for a new head coach begins and with 11 total 1995-born players on the roster, there stands to be significant turnover and a youthful infusion in the player-personnel department, which factors into the process.
“There are always lots of candidates. There are coaches at every level of hockey,” Chynoweth said. “We’ve just got to make sure we get the right one. That’s a tough puzzle to put together. For us, we definitely have some ideas in mind of what we’re looking for and as the process goes along, we’ll take our time and see if we can get the right fit for our hockey club.
“Teaching is always important, especially when you’re dealing with today’s young players…Teaching and communication are always very important, whoever you hire in any position in your organization, not just the head coach.”
Chynoweth said resumes and applications have already begun flowing in for the soon-to-be vacated head coaching position, but he is in no rush to find the sixth coach in franchise history.
“We’ll sit down when the time is right and start the process,” Chynoweth said. “But we’re in no rush to make a decision.
“We don’t put a timeframe on it.”
McGill was the second coach in franchise history, first joining the club during its final days in Edmonton, replacing Dave Siciliano midway through the 1997-98 campaign. The 46-year-old native of Sherwood Park, Alta., remained with the Ice through the 2001-02 season, guiding the franchise to a pair of WHL titles (2000 and 2002) as well as a Memorial Cup championship (2002).
McGill departed following the 2002 season, moving into head coaching roles at the American Hockey League level (Hartford Wolf Pack, 2002-03 through 2004-05; Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights/ Quad City Flames, 2005-06 through 2008-09) before joining the Calgary Flames as an assistant coach (2009-10 through 2010-11).
During his absence, Cory Clouston (five seasons), Mark Holick (three seasons) and Kris Knoblauch (two seasons) found their way in and out of Cranbrook.
McGill returned for his second stint at the onset of the 2012-13 campaign.
The 2014-15 WHL season marked the third in his second tour of duty with the club. The Ice wrapped the season 37-31-1-3, good enough for fourth place in the Central Division before falling to the Calgary Hitmen in a seven-game, first-round playoff defeat.
In eight total seasons behind the bench, McGill registered a career regular-season record of 280-222-53.
On top of his two league titles and Memorial Cup championship, McGill was also named WHL Coach of the Year following the 2012-13 campaign, leading into his role as an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
While McGill’s tenure in Cranbrook has come to a close for the second time, three other members of Chynoweth’s hockey-operations staff also face expiring contracts.
Assistant coach Jay Henderson, athletic therapist Cory Cameron and director of scouting Garnet Kazuik all see their contracts expire June 30 as well.
Chynoweth’s hope is to retain all three moving forward.