Hitmen relieve head coach Mike Williamson of his duties

When expectations aren’t met, someone usually winds up paying a stiff price.

Wednesday, that someone turned out to be Mike Williamson.

“We just didn’t feel our hockey club reached the level it should’ve,” explained Calgary Hitmen general manager Mike Moore after announcing the club would not be picking up the option year of the head coach’s contract. “As evidenced in the Kootenay series and at other times during the year. Mike did a lot of good things but the level of (success) wasn’t where we felt the level of talent should get to.”

The highly-favoured Hitmen fell to the Kootenay Ice in six games in their opening playoff-round tussle this season, devoured whole by the destructive tandem of Sam Reinhart and Jaedon Descheaneau.

After an impressive 103-point regular season, the Hitmen were pushed aside by an Ice team that had finished a full 20 points behind them in the standings.

A year ago, Calgary advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference final before losing a tight seven-game series to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The high-water mark of Williams five-year tenure down at the Scotiabank Saddledome came in his first season at the helm, 2009-2010, guiding the Hitmen to the WHL title and to a Memorial Cup semifinal. The team reached the Western Hockey League playoffs in four years with him in control and compiled a regular-season record of 210-129-13.

In announcing the Williamson decision, the club confirmed that associate coach Brent Kisio, assistant coach Joel Otto and goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk will all remain with the team.

“I have a lot of time for Mike Williamson,” said Moore. “He’s a quality guy. He was disappointed. We all are. But he’s a professional and he will end up in a good spot somewhere because he’s a good person and a good coach.”

So the hunt now begins for a replacement. Moore said he won’t be rushed into a decision.

“You always go into these things with some ideas, but there are guys that you don’t even know are out there or who might be interested. We’ll go through a thorough process from our identified list and guys that come to us to make sure we get the best candidate so we can continue to aspire to be the league champions and Memorial Cup champions.

“We’re not in a big hurry. We’ll make sure the process is as long as it needs to be and as thorough as it needs to be.”

Williamson did not return calls by press time on Wednesday night.

ICE CHIPS: Three Hitmen players — defencemen Travis Sanheim and Ben Thomas, and forward Jake Virtanen — have made the final roster for Team Canada’s entry in the IIHF World U-18 hockey championships, which begin Thursday in Imatra, Finland. Calgarian Brayden Point of the Moose Jaw Warriors, as well as Red Deer Rebels Conner Bleackley of High River and Haydn Fleury are also on Team Canada, which will play off against Group A opponents Sweden on Thursday, Germany on Saturday, Slovakia on Sunday and Russia on Tuesday. The quarter-finals are scheduled for April 24, semifinals for April 26 and the final April 27.

Photo Gallery

2 Comments Write your comment

    1. Loading...