December 13, 2010
Hands up if you had Jason Brooks as the first head coach let go in the Ontario Hockey League this season.
Being merely competitive in the Ontario Hockey League's drum-tight Western Conference, which already cost him the general manager's position, led to Storm GM Mike Kelly replacing Brooks as coach on Monday. Having a two-goal lead get away in an overtime loss to Erie on Sunday was apparently the last straw. From the Guelph Mercury:
"Kelly fired head coach Jason Brooks on Monday and laid much of the blame at the feet of the team’s older players.
"Kelly will be behind the bench for the team’s three games this week, then use the ensuing Christmas break to hire a new head coach.
" 'The players have to look in the mirror. I think I’ve taken an excuse away from some of them. It’s time for them to step up,' Kelly said.
" 'Frankly I was highly impressed with his Xs and Os and him as a person,' Kelly said. 'What he preached was solid, solid stuff.'
"Kelly said he has no intention whatsoever of taking over as coach on a full-time basis and will definitely have a new coach in place for the New Year. (Saxon on the Storm)
There is the rub. In the on-paper realm the Storm, led by a quartet of 19-year-olds that includes Anaheim Ducks first-rounder Peter Holland, NHL second-rounders Taylor Beck and Richard Panik and dependable Michael Latta, can make a run. The Storm (.500 point percentage, but a minus-21 goal differential through 31 games) are not far enough back to rule out the possibility of peaking by the playoffs. Like the Kingston Frontenacs, who currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, the makeup of their roster pretty much dictated going for it this season.
Bottom line, if Guelph didn't go anywhere in the post-season, Brooks was going to be a goner. Guelph just sped up the clock, which admittedly has come as a surprise; many thought adding Kelly might hasten trying to rebuild.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. (Photo: OHL Images.)