Stothers moving on

Katie
Katie Brickman
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Warriors looking for a new head coach

The Moose Jaw Warriors are on the search for a new head coach.

Mike Stothers, head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors talks to a referee during game action this season at Mosaic Place. Stothers was announced as the new head coach of the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey Leauge. Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie

The club officially announced on Tuesday, along with the Los Angeles Kings, that Stothers has been hired as the new head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Kings.

“He is a very quality person and a great coach,” said Alan Millar, general manager of the Warriors. “I think it is a great opportunity for Mike. I think it is a proud day for our organization. I think his impact will be felt on our program and our players for years to come.”

Stothers, 52, was hired by the organization in the summer of 2011 and was behind the bench for the inaugural season at Mosaic Place.

In that 2011-2012 season, the Warriors set a franchise record for wins (45), home wins (30), fewest losses (19) and points (98). They also won their third East Division title and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.

“I think Mike came in here and taught our players structure, how to be professionals … he taught them how to play the game the right way and he was part of the solution,” said Millar. “We had a chance to win the first year he was here, but we came up short. Then we went into a full rebuild where he was part of the solution and worked with our young players and the challenges that come with that.”

After three seasons with the Warriors, Stothers has a record of 91-97-28. In 216 games, he is tied for third all-time in games for coaches on the Warriors bench.

“I know a lot of people saw him as a big guy that was demanding and challenging, but I think our players knew that above and beyond that, he cared about them and he worked very hard in areas of schooling and their billets. He wanted to make sure our players were looked after,” stated Millar. “He is a great person that worked hard in those areas and did that in the best interest of our players. I think, ultimately on the ice, he taught them how to play the game the right way, be professional and I think our players learned a lot.”

Millar said two National Hockey League teams approached the Warriors so they could speak with Stothers about job openings. He was offered two AHL positions.

“I think it is a great recognition for Mike and the respect that he has in the game,” said Millar. “We are ecstatic for him, Judy and his family.”

The timing could be problematic for the Warriors, as the club is set to open training camp in less than two months. However, Millar doesn’t want to focus on the negative aspects of Stothers moving on.

“I think the quick approach here is that it is hole and it is late and we don’t have a lot a time, but in saying that, it is a great thing for a great person,” he said. “It is good for our program and it is a challenge to replace him, but that is how I have to look at it — it is a challenge, but we have to do what is in the best interest of our organization. We will work very hard and we will be very diligent in finding his replacement.”

The Warriors are currently focused on the CHL Import Draft, which takes place on Wednesday, where they have the 12th overall pick.

“We have started to do some preliminary work and as soon as I get through the No. 12 pick in the import draft, we will be moving right onto the coaching search,” said Millar.

The organization would not put a time frame on the search for a new coach, but with the Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants and Portland Winterhawks all looking to fill the same role, the market will be competitive.

“The simple answer is that is has to be the right guy. We will talk to lots of people and we will meet with lots of people. We will do our best in getting the right guy for our team, our program and for our community,” said Millar. “There is still a lot of movement within the pro ranks with assistant coaches that trickles down to the American League. The challenge is what it is.”

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

Organizations: American Hockey League, Los Angeles Kings, National Hockey League

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