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Holick, Blazers part ways; Clouston talks coaching stable

Clouston said there is perhaps room for two full-time assistant coaches next season, with the Blazers preparing to host the Memorial Cup in 2023
Former Kamloops Blazers' associate coach Mark Holick patrols the bench at Sandman Centre during the 2021-2022 season.

Mark Holick is no longer associate coach for the Kamloops Blazers.

A club press release said Holick, who was hired prior to the 2021-2022 WHL season, is stepping down for personal reasons.

“I think it really is [mutual],” Blazers’ head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston told KTW.

“You can get Mark’s take on it. That’s the most important thing. Originally, the plan was for Mark to move his family up here. There were some schooling- and work-related situations with his wife and the roads closed there for half the winter. That didn’t make it easier. And there is a situation right now they’re dealing with that was just going to make that move impossible. When you added everything up, it just wasn’t going to work out with him and his family moving forward.”

KTW has reached out to Holick for comment.

Clouston said there is perhaps room for two full-time assistant coaches next season, with the Blazers preparing to host the Memorial Cup in 2023.

“There is going to be lots of work for me from the GM side of things, with roster,” Clouston said. “We do believe it’s not a one-person job. It’s probably a two-person job.”

Chris Murray was part of the coaching staff last season in a part-time role, but was essentially handing full-time duties by the end of the campaign, Clouston said.

Clouston said he is working to bring in Murray as a full-time assistant.

“We would look at trying to continue with that,” Clouston said. “There will have to be some discussions with him and where he’s at with the surgery and the rehab and the fire department.”

Murray, a full-time Kamloops Fire Rescue employee, told KTW the 2021-2022 campaign was his last as head coach of the under-18 Thompson Blazers.

He was able to dedicate more time than expected to the Kamloops Blazers last season because he has been unable to work for the fire department while awaiting shoulder replacement surgery.

"It's something I would definitely like to do," Murray said of joining the WHL club in a full-time position. "Whether it materializes, it's a bit early to say. I wish Mark Holick well. It was good getting to know him last year. He was lots of fun to work with and learn from."

Murray toiled for the Kamloops Blazers for three seasons — he racked up 21 goals, 48 points and 695 penalty minutes — and was part of Memorial Cup-winning teams in 1992 and 1994.

"Junior hockey, for me, as young man, was the most transformational part of my life and it really helped guide who I am," said Murray, who played 242 NHL games. "The Memorial Cup is a bonus. Now it puts a little bit more pressure on the kids. They're going to need all the support they can get to get through the season and have success."

Clouston said interviews will likely take place up to and at the NHL Draft, which is slated for July 7 and July 8 in Montreal. He expects to have the coaching stable in place by early August at the latest.

“It’s a very high-profile job,” Clouston said. “I think it’s going to be even higher profile with the opportunity to be in the Memorial Cup process.

“Kamloops has always been a real good spot. It’s a great city, great fan base and the city is first class.”

Holick was hired in August 2021, replacing Cory Clouston, who cited personal reasons (wishing to spend more time with his daughter) for his reason to step down last summer.