Kamloops Blazers down to short list in search for head coach

Matt Bardsley has trimmed the list, with about five candidates remaining in the hunt for the Kamloops Blazers’ head coaching job.

‘We feel pretty good about the candidates we’ve talked to,” said Bardsley, the WHL club’s second-year general manager.

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“I wouldn’t say there is a timeline, but we certainly don’t want to take too long into the summer months to announce a coach.”

The Blazers and former head coach Serge Lajoie parted ways in April, a relationship that lasted one season.

Kamloops posted a 28-32-6-2 record in 2018-2019 and snuck into the playoffs on the back of an incredible late-season push that included a victory over the Kelowna Rockets in a post-season play-in game.

The Victoria Royals needed six games to bounce the Blazers in Round 1.

“You need a real strong communicator, someone that understands today’s players and has a strong emphasis on development of the skill side,” Bardsley said.

“It’s a long year. It’s not something you work on for a couple of weeks and that’s it. It’s the whole season. You have to constantly keep working with the players. We want them to get better every day.”

The Blazers will host their prospects camp, for 2003- and 2004-born players, from May 31 to June 2. Bardsley said it would be nice to make an announcement before then, but he will not rush to any decisions.

Blazers’ part-owner Darryl Sydor, who will be around to help out at the prospects camp, jumped behind the bench as an assistant coach during the second half of the 2018-2019 campaign, an addition that dovetailed with the team’s ascension to the playoffs.

Majority owner Tom Gaglardi praised Sydor after the season, but said a comprehensive search would be conducted for Lajoie’s replacement — and the rumour mill is churning.

Names bandied about include Sydor, Prince Albert Raiders’ assistant coach Jeff Truitt, former WHL bench bosses Dave Lowry and Don Nachbaur, both of whom are available after stints with the Los Angeles Kings, Portland Winterhawks’ associate coach/assistant GM Kyle Gustafson and Vancouver Giants’ associate coach Jamie Heward.

Bardsley said he received about 35 resumes.

© Kamloops This Week



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