Head coach Cory Clouston fired by Prince Albert Raiders just 15 games into the year

The Raiders announced the firing of Cory Clouston on Oct. 31.
The Raiders announced the firing of Cory Clouston on Oct. 31.

Cory Clouston’s time with the Prince Albert Raiders didn’t last long. The organization showed him the door just 15 games into his second season in Hockey Town North.

Clouston ultimately came into this season on a bit of a short leash. The Raiders underachieved last year under him as they barely snuck into the playoffs and were swept by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round. They were expected to at least make some noise in the post-season because of their high-end talent such as Edmonton Oilers prized pick Leon Draisaitl and Winnipeg Jets first-round pick Josh Morrissey. The 2013-14 season combined with how he was on the last year of his two-year contract gave him an uncertain future in Prince Albert.

The Raiders didn’t get off to a great start to the season with a 6-9-0-0 record, but it’s not like they were expected to do much better this year without Draisaitl in their lineup. It seems the firing of Clouston stems from problems within the dressing room. Overage Dakota Conroy and 18-year-old Colton McCarthy left the team near mid-October and asked for trades largely because they didn’t see eye to eye with Clouston. In addition, it is believed that assistant coach Tim Leonard wasn’t on the same page with Clouston before he stepped down from his position for “personal reasons.”

There is no question that Clouston is a smart hockey mind. He wouldn’t have spent three years behind the Ottawa Senators bench if he wasn’t. He did, however, make some questionable moves in Prince Albert this year such as practically playing just two of his forward lines in some games. These decisions not only put unfair workloads on several of his players, but it also showed he doesn’t quite understand or care that the WHL is a development league. There is a time and a place to roll two lines in junior like in a crucial playoff game, but not in early regular-season contests. It appears he gave his players little patience to adjust to the league and there could have been a better effort put in to try to develop them.

This isn’t the first time that Clouston has seemed to have issues earning the respect of his players in a WHL dressing room. Rumour has it the Brandon Wheat Kings threw a party when they found out Kelly McCrimmon canned Clouston after his lone season behind the club’s bench in 2011-12.

From Wheat Kings play-by-play announcer Bruce Luebke in 2012.

The hard-driving coaching style employed by Clouston was looked upon with disdain by the players, and his treatment of the players, especially the younger players, became such an issue that sources told me that team captain Mark Stone met with GM Kelly McCrimmon midway through the season to discuss the matter.

... An observation during the post-season for me came in the post-season, when I had a chance to watch the Wheat Kings' opponents (Calgary and Edmonton) practice, something not often afforded during the regular season.

Those teams ran high-tempo practices with coaching staffs that worked in sync with one another — two things lacking during Brandon's practices.

Bottom line, Cory Clouston might be good with the X's and O's of the game, but his motivational techniques and personality might be in conflict with what's effective in this day and age of hockey.

Does not being warm and fuzzy make Cory Clouston a poor hockey coach? Not in the least.

But, it does make him a difficult person to be around on a daily basis. (Luber's Lounge)

The Raiders plan to name a permanent replacement for Clouston in the not-so distant future. In the meantime, associate coach Dave Manson will be the club’s interim bench boss.

With Clouston gone, GM Bruno Campese’s future in Prince Albert has to be up for discussion. He has fired two bench bosses – Clouston and Steve Young – since stepping down from his head coaching duties to focus on being the club’s general manager in 2012. In addition, the Raiders never won a playoff round in his previous seven years with the organization. His contract is set to expire at the end of this season.

Trades coming

Sources tell BTN the Clouston firing won’t be the only big news to come out of Prince Albert before Christmas. The Raiders intend on trading Morrissey before he heads off to the world junior championship. Campese isn’t looking for a boatload of draft choices, but rather a package revolving around a 17-year-old forward who has established himself in the league.

Trading Morrissey is the right long-term move for the Raiders. This is the Calgary, Alta., native’s last year in the league and Prince Albert simply doesn’t have the talent in the room to win a playoff round this season. Acquiring some young assets for the 6-foot, 190-pounder will setup the Raiders to be in better shape down the road when they may have the skill to do some damage in the post-season.

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen