Rumours started floating this evening that the newest coach in the WHL will be Steve Konowalchuk.
It sounds as if Konowalchuk will be leaving his post as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche to take over as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds have been looking for a new coach since the end of March, when they announced they wouldn't be renewing the contract of Rob Sumner.
Sumner had spent the previous 16 years with Seattle, including the last 7 as the head coach. It's actually shocking that he lasted that long with the club. Clearly this last year was too much to take. They wrapped up the year with a record of 27-35-5-5 and failed to make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference.
For those not familiar with Kono, he has been with the Avalanche since they hired Joe Sacco as their head coach two years ago. Prior to that he spent time with the Washington Capitals and the Avalanche during his NHL career. He had just under 400 points in 790 career games. He was known for his grit and leadership and was a solid defensive player.
I love this move for Seattle. They need someone who has played and played well at the pro level and a guy who is also known for his character. Konowalchuk is surely a guy that will do a great job molding young players.
This also has me wondering, this deal must include some MAJOR job security or an extra title along with head coach because this is technically a step back for Konowalchuk. It's always nice to be a top guy on a hockey club as a coach, but going from the NHL to the WHL is still an interesting choice.
It will be interesting to see if this is in fact the announcement that is made tomorrow by Seattle.