Former Cents Forward Don Nachbaur Named Coach of WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, Cents AGM focuses on all the positives:

(Former Cents forward Don Nachbaur, being introduced at a news conference in Spokane today)


Spokane, WA – June 30, 2010

The Spokane Chiefs have named Don Nachbaur, ninth on the WHL’s all-time coaching win list, as the organization’s 11th head coach in franchise history. Nachbaur has won 431 games in 12 seasons, six each in Seattle and Tri-City, as a head coach in the WHL and is a two-time winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy for the WHL’s Coach of the Year (1995-Seattle, 2008-Tri-City).

The contract between Nachbaur and the Chiefs is a five-year agreement.

“I always appreciated the fact that Spokane was a strong, well run franchise,” Nachbaur said.

“When coaching against Spokane I thought they were always one of the toughest teams to play. The word professional comes to mind. It is a great building, Spokane has good teams and you always want to be a part of something like that.”

“We are thrilled to have a coach of Don’s credentials head up our staff. He is a very experienced and accomplished head coach who works extremely hard. He gets the most out of his players and his teams are committed and dedicated to their gameplan,” Chiefs General Manager Tim Speltz said.

Nachbaur’s first season as a head coach, 1994-95, resulted in a 42 win campaign and his first coach of the year honor with the Seattle Thunderbirds. In 1996-97 the Thunderbirds won 41 games and the Western Conference Championship. They advanced to the WHL Finals for the only time in franchise history.

Following a two year stint as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League, Nachbaur returned to the WHL with the Tri-City Americans as their head coach in 2003-04. In six full seasons there he recorded a 235-155-25-17 (W-L-SL-OTL) record including consecutive seasons of 47, 52 and 49 wins in his last three years.

The Americans’ 108 point campaign in 2007-08 set a franchise record for wins (52) and points and resulted in the Scotty Munro Trophy for most points in the WHL. Nachbaur also won his second WHL Coach of the Year trophy. In the post-season, he guided the Americans to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing a seven game series that featured five overtime games, including three that went into double overtime, to the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Chiefs.

“The thing I remember most was how both teams went into each other’s building and won,” Nachbaur said

“It was a close, close series and there are a lot of memories from it. There was good jockeying going on between the coaches with the systems but at the end of the day neither team wanted to lose. It is a credit to both teams and the culture they had in the locker room.

“It goes hand in hand with every team’s rival. We didn’t like losing to them and they didn’t like losing to us and you have to respect that,” Nachbaur said.

Nachbaur helped the Americans win their first two U.S. Division regular season titles in 2007-08 and 2008-09. His WHL teams have qualified for the playoffs each season and he stands as one of 11 coaches in WHL history with over 400 career wins.

The Kitimat, British Columbia native left the Americans organization last July to accept the head coaching position with the Binghamton Senators, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. Two weeks ago, Nachbaur resigned from that post.

“I know the WHL and how well it is run,” Nachbaur said. “I have a grasp on what it takes to win in the league. Hockey in North America is very competitive and the WHL doesn’t take a back seat to anybody.”

As a player, Nachbaur spent one season in the BCJHL in 1976-77 with the Merritt Centennials, posting 22 goals and 27 assists in 54 games. He also played two seasons in the WHL, both with the Billings Bighorns, and scored 67 goals and 146 points in 137 games from 1977-79. He still shares the WHL record with five goals in one playoff game helping lead Billings to a 7-4 win over New Westminster in 1978.

The Hartford Whalers selected him in the third round, 60th overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. The first of his 15 year professional career began the following season in the American Hockey League with Springfield. Nachbaur’s career included 223 games in the NHL with Hartford, Edmonton and Philadelphia. He also played 469 games in the AHL, recording 174 goals, 361 points and 1,452 penalty minutes. He retired in 1993-94 after four seasons in Austria.

Nachbaur and his family, wife Kim, 18-year-old daughter Sydney and 14-year-old son Daniel, will make Spokane their home.

(Here’s the Cents staff and Board of Directors in a photo taken after last week’s AGM. Yes – that is yours truly on the far left!)

(Back row, left to right) Paul Barnes, Nick Vischschraper, Beth Nadeau, Frank Etchart, Tom Reynolds, Brian Barrett and Tod Dean. (Front row, left to right) Brian Wiebe, Maddison Canuel, Jerry Canuel, Andrea Barnes, Cathy Frizzell and Luke Pierce. Missing are Assistant Coach Chad DeLeeuw and Director Betty Doberstein.

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald

The Merritt Centennials hockey team held its Annual General Meeting last week at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

While the turnout of local citizens was not huge, there was plenty of good news to be heard by those in attendance – not only about the Cents’ season just past, but the organization’s prospects for the coming season and on into the future.

Centennials’ President Jerry Canuel kicked off the Thursday night meeting with a recap of the 2009-10 hockey year, from its somewhat tumultuous start back in September to its resoundingly successful finish in late February.

During that six month period, Merritt’s storied BCHL franchise worked its way through no fewer than three ownership situations, and just as many coaching changes.

“It was a real learning experience for all of us,” understated Canuel on behalf of the entire Centennials’ Executive and Board of Directors.

Canuel then went on to say, “The best thing that could have happened, however, was when we put a local brand on the team with the hiring of Luke [Pierce as Head Coach and General Manager], and the bringing of Maury [Grant] and Josh [Yurkowski] on board. Our attendance went up, there was renewed confidence throughout the community, and a better attitude both on and off the ice.”

Brian Barrett, the Centennials’ current Director of Hockey Operations, and long time supporter of the junior A hockey team in one capacity or another, re-iterated Canuel’s feelings.

“Luke has been such a huge positive to this club, and I see a bright future ahead for the team,” said Barrett. “It’s unbelievable to be involved with a franchise in the best junior A league in Canada.”

Barrett went on to state that operating such a franchise comes with its challenges, as the British Columbia Hockey League continues to become more and more organized and more professional.

“There is a manual now that spells out the procedures and expectations for league members in almost every area of their operations, both on and off the ice. It’s a ‘standards’ document that will be a real challenge for small-market teams like Merritt to meet.”

Following Barrett’s comments, Merritt Centennials’ Treasurer Beth Nadeau was able to report to the AGM that “for the first time in a very long time the Merritt Centennials made money”.

Nadeau went on to say that the team’s revenues were greatly aided by the involvement of the forestry sector, and a small-scale salvaging program that has been initiated with the Ministry of Forests and local private businesses.

Nadeau also made reference to the tremendous work of the Centennials’ Booster Club – a small group comprised of tireless volunteers – which raised over $52,000 to help with the team’s expenses.

Both Director Tom Reynolds and Marketing Manager Maddison Canuel spoke of the improvements that have been made over the course of the past year in the areas of promotion and marketing.

“It was a year spent getting organized, and becoming more professional,” stated Reynolds, while Canuel added, “As the year progressed, a really good vibe evolved.”

Canuel also proudly announced that Merritt was the only franchise in the league to actually increase its average attendance for the 2009-2010 season.

Head Coach Luke Pierce then took centre stage, and said at the outset, “I continue to feel fortunate to be involved with the hockey club, and I’m really excited about how things are coming together hockey-wise.”

Pierce said that many of the important pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place, with a strong scouting and recruiting team assembled across North America and with the hiring of a full-time assistant coach in Chad De Leeuw.

Pierce stated that the signing two weeks ago of one of the best prospects in British Columbia, 16-year-old Jakob Reichert from Langley, for the upcoming season, “is a real coup for our hockey club”.

Brian Wiebe, Program Director for Q101 and an ardent supporter of junior A hockey, went on to detail the immense interest that is “out there” in the Merritt Centennials.

“The team has both a web page and a blog site, and is on Facebook,” Wiebe explained. “The web page had 32,400 unique visitors last year, while the blog has had over 7,000 visits since March.”

It was left to Rusty Brewer, Centennials’ Booster Club member and last season’s BCHL Volunteer of the Year to sum things up best with respect to the evening’s news and events.

“I think that I’ve probably been involved in 25 or more AGMs over the years. Never have I felt the strength that we have right now with the current directors and staff.”


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