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Thread: Rockets searching for coach

  1. #1

    Post Rockets searching for coach

    By Larry Fisher

    Bruce Hamilton thought he had his man. Then, the Edmonton Oilers scooped him up.

    Ian Herbers, formerly the University of Alberta Golden Bears head coach and coming off his second straight CIS championship, had applied for the coaching vacancy with the Kelowna Rockets. His resume immediately went to the top of the heap for Hamilton, Kelowna’s general manager, but Herbers accepted an assistant coaching job with the Oilers over the weekend to round out Todd McLellan’s staff.

    “They hired him (Sunday), so that was one off the list,” Hamilton said of Herbers. “We were very high on him. He would’ve been a slam-dunk in my mind, but that’s the way it goes.

    “Now we’ll dig in a little deeper and try to get as much information as we can on each guy before we start to decide who I want to bring in (for interviews).”

    Beyond Herbers, a frontrunner hasn’t emerged among the 50-plus men interested in replacing Dan Lambert alongside current assistants Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard, who will both remain in the fold but are not candidates to be named head coach at this time.

    “We’ve got lots of real good possibilities,” Hamilton said. “I’m working my way through, trying to figure out who we’re interested in and researching them out.

    “My first preference is to find somebody with some experience. If we don’t, then we’ll work our way down to the best young guy that is available.”

    Lambert was somewhat surprisingly hired by the Buffalo Sabres last week as an assistant coach to Dan Bylsma, his former minor-league teammate who visited Kelowna in March and helped run a few Rockets practices. Lambert left after six seasons on Kelowna’s coaching staff, five as an assistant to Ryan Huska and this past season as head coach of the WHL champions and Memorial Cup finalists.

    Fresh off those successes and with a strong returning roster, not to mention a desirable place to live, Kelowna’s opening is a coveted one...

    Another name that has been subject of speculation is Ryan McGill, who parted ways with the Kootenay Ice this spring after three seasons as their bench boss. Rockets broadcaster Regan Bartel noted that McGill is familiar to both Hamilton and Kelowna's director of player personnel Lorne Frey. The 46-year-old's father Bob was a scout for the Rockets for several years and Ryan is a former player with the Swift Current Broncos, the team Frey was an assistant coach with during the 1986-87 season.

    “I don’t think I’m going to start disclosing who has applied,” Hamilton said with respect to the ongoing process. “All these guys could be in the running for other places too.

    “I think there are still some guys that will come forward too,” he added. “Guys that are holding out for NHL assistant and American League jobs. There are a few of them that I certainly know haven’t got jobs yet that would be of interest to me.”

    With that said, Hamilton won’t be waiting around for long.

    “I’m hoping to start interviewing probably next week,” he said. “Because of the alumni stuff this week, I think I’m pretty tied up with that. I’d rather wait and bring them in one after the other.

    “I don’t bring people in for interviews just to interview them. I want to work to get my research done and decide if it’s someone that interests me, then bring them in and see how I feel about them.”

  2. #2


    Kelowna Rockets President/GM Bruce Hamilton announced that the Rockets have hired Brad Ralph as the organization’s new head coach, signing him to a three year contract.

    Ralph, 34, was the head coach of the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads for the past three seasons and will be the ninth head coach in Kelowna Rockets history.

    “We’re really excited,” said Hamilton. “Brad has a tremendous coaching record. I believe we found someone who fits in with the culture we have here. He fully understands what we expect as an organization. This has been a process that we would have liked to have move quicker but we feel Brad is an excellent fit for the organization.”

    Last season Ralph was a finalist for ECHL Coach of the Year after compiling a 48-18-6 record and winning the ECHL Pacific Division with the Steelheads. Over a five year coaching career, Ralph has posted a 203-98-27 record, spending three years in Idaho and two more in Augusta (SPHL) where he was 2011 SPHL Coach of the Year.

    “It’s an honour to coach the Kelowna Rockets and I’m excited to get to know the players and the organization,” said Ralph. “The Rockets have a great tradition of winning and I’m looking forward to learning why this team has been so successful over the years. I think there is a great group of players coming back here and I’m excited to guide them back to where they were last year.”

    A native of Richmond, ON, Ralph played junior hockey for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals before being drafted in the 2nd round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. Over an eight year professional career, Ralph played over 450 professional games (North America and Europe) and was team captain on four of the nine teams he played on.

    Ralph joins current Rockets assistant coaches Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard on the Rockets bench for the coming season.

  3. #3

    Post Rockets get their man

    by Wayne Moore

    Bruce Hamilton finally has his man. After nearly a month and 100 applications Hamilton announced 34-year-old Brad Ralph is the ninth coach in franchise history.

    It happened quick. Hamilton met face-to-face with Ralph Monday and made the hiring official today.

    Ralph replaces Dan Lambert who left after one season behind the bench to join the coaching staff of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.

    Hamilton sifted through about a hundred resumes before landing on Ralph, who has spent five years coaching professional hockey, the last three with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads.

    Ralph has no ties to the WHL having played junior hockey with the OHL's Oshawa Generals.

    "There were a lot of former coaches and people who had experience in our league who were interested in the job but I decided early on I wanted to bring someone in who hadn't been in our league," said Hamilton.

    "He's the guy I got to and I'm excited about what kind of coach he's going to be. He's young and I think that brings some real energy."

    At 34, Ralph is just two years older than Ryan Huska who began his seven year run as Rockets coach at the tender age of 32.

    "I was intrigued by his age. I think it's great to give guys like this an opportunity. He's had five years of coaching in the pros. He's going to be a positive guy for us in the dressing room," said Hamilton.

    For Ralph, the decision to come to the Okanagan wasn't that difficult.

    "Obviously a winning franchise number one, the Canadian Hockey League number two and the team, the players. I've heard nothing but high praises about their character and their ability to win now," said Ralph who admits despite coming off back-to-back-to-back 50 win seasons there isn't any more pressure here to win than anywhere else.

    "There is pressure everywhere you go. Bruce said early we expect you to win here. My expectations are as high as anyone's. Our goal is to win the division and win a championship and we'll go from there. We'll take one step at a time."

    Obviously he handled the pressure in the ECHL, guiding Idaho to a 132-64-0-20 record over three seasons.

    "One of the things he stated in his resume was he wants to play an upbeat game that's offence, offence, offence. We've developed that over the past few years and I want to keep it that way. It keeps your players fully involved and they have fun playing that way," said Hamilton.

    "I didn't want somebody coming in thinking we needed a shock treatment because we don't need that t all. Keep going and doing the things we've been doing."

    Ralph won't have long get familiar with his new surroundings. Training camp begins in less than three weeks.

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