The Castlegar Rebels are in the hunt for a new coach. This after the board of directors decided not to renew Brent Heaven's contract, despite him being named the 2009-10 Neil Murdoch Division Coach of the Year. More information is available on the Rebels' official website.
The word hit our Mountain FM newsroom late this afternoon, my colleague Shawn Mullin spoke with Rebels president Jim Craig shortly thereafter. Craig justified the move as the result of regular-season success continually failing to translate into series victories in the post-season, notably this year when the Rebels were knocked out in the first round by Spokane. He added the Rebels want to build a consistent winner much like the Nelson Leafs and Fernie Ghostriders, and finding a new head coach with his own philosophy and program is the next step in trying to achieve that. The team will not rush their decision in finding a new bench boss, Craig added they currently have nobody in particular in mind. I also understand the new coach will have his choice of retaining assistant Topher Plonka or finding his own crew. As always, stay tuned to both Mountain FM and Off The Wahl for the very latest when a name is chosen.
Craig also mentioned the team will try to build a better relationship with the Trail Smoke Eaters. No Rebels players APed for Trail this season, while several players from Nelson and Beaver Valley (including Colton Semenok last night) stepped up when the Smoke Eaters came calling. We'll see how this develops in 2010-11.
As for Heaven, it's obviously never an easy decision to part ways with a coach and GM, especially one who has enjoyed success (at least in the regular season). It seemed though, that this team struggled with inconsistency in the latter half of the season and into the playoffs, and the playoff loss to Spokane seems to have been the last straw. Craig mentioned that Heaven has the talent to be a Junior A coach and beyond, and I agree that people in hockey circles will hear his name in the future. Personally, he was more than accommodating whenever we crossed paths, and I hope he finds a gig as a coach, be it in the KIJHL or another league, soon.