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Kootenay hire Ryan McGill as coach, Victoria and Brandon only vacancies

Ryan McGillThe Kootenay Ice can simply replace one WHL Championship-winning coach with another. It's been a while since we've followed upon the strange saga of Kris Knoblauch, who was behind the bench for the team's 2011 Ed Chynoweth Cup team. Knoblauch was fired after news leaked that he had been talking with the Alberta Golden Bears about a head coaching job in CIS.

Chaos ensued. The Ice cut ties with Knoblauch, who didn't even end up getting the job in Alberta. Instead, that was Ian Herbers. The Ice were also left without a coach, but that void was filled on Wednesday. Ryan McGill, who won two Cups with the Ice in 2000 and 2002.

Not only does McGill have an extensive coaching record in major-junior and professional hockey, but he also spent some time as a player in the NHL in the early 1990s.

"He played in the NHL and that's what players want, is to get to the NHL and players can relate to him in that sense," said Chynoweth. "He's played in the NHL, coached in the NHL, coached in the American Hockey League, he's coached at all the highest levels, and he's won. [The Townsman]

McGill had a 174-133-43 record during his first tenure, one that began when he took over for Dave Siciliano in the Edmonton days. The Ice won two Ed Chynoweth Cups as WHL Champions in 2000 and 2002, and the Ice won the 2002 Memorial Cup in Guelph. He left to join the professional ranks as the coach of the AHL's Omaha Ak-Sar Ben Knights, the Calgary Flames affiliate, and moved with the team to Quad City before becoming an NHL assistant in 2009. He was let go by the club after two seasons.

The hiring clarifies the WHL coaching situation. Only the Victoria Royals and Brandon Wheat Kings have spots to fill right now. The Wheaties' former coach in Cory Clouston has been linked to the Victoria job, telling the Victoria Times-Colonist "there is definite interest on my part. That's all I can tell you."

Clouston not only has NHL experience, spending two-and-a-half years in Ottawa with the Senators, amassing a record of 95-83-20, but he got his coaching start on Vancouver Island with the Junior A Powell River Paper Kings of the BCHL. Whatever the cause for his departure after one season in Brandon, he certainly has the qualifications to be a successful WHL coach.

Also mentioned in the Times-Colonist article from this morning is Dave Lowry. Nobody has been rumoured or linked to the Brandon job, but obviously assistant Dwayne Gylywoychuk is looking for the head coaching gig. The stated reason for the Wheat Kings letting go of Clouston in the first place was "in part because they didn't want uncertainty with the position during the offseason."

Here we are in early July, and the Ice have filled their vacancy, with the Royals likely closing out their search within a couple of weeks of learning they would need to fill the position. The Wheat Kings are losing Mark Stone and Michael Ferland this summer to pro hockey. Unless they're planning on hiring an internal candidate, they've gone through two drafts, a bantam draft and an import draft, without a key office piece at the table.

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