Former NHL coach Guy Charron hasn’t forgotten his roots.
The veteran mentor was hired by the Kamloops Blazers earlier this week and immediately insisted he won’t be pushing his will simply because he’s worked at a higher level.
Charron said he’ll depend heavily on Blazers assistants Scott Ferguson and Geoff Smith and sounded legitimately thrilled about guiding major junior players as opposed to pros.
“It’s not going to be The Guy Charron Show here,” the 60-year-old native of Verdun, Que., told Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan.
“We’re going to work as a team and try to build something that will make the players proud and be successful.”
Charron will concentrate on improving the Blazers’ defensive game and penalty kill. The team has given up a WHL-high 122 goals and its penalty killing ranks 19th in the 22-team loop.
“I had the opportunity to watch a couple of games on the Internet,” Charron said.
“You can’t be too judgmental because you’re watching on a small screen. But I was able to see a couple of things . . . and the statistics don’t lie, whether it’s the goals-against or the penalty killing.
“I felt I could help the team in those specific areas, especially the goals-against.”
Kamloops general manager Craig Bonner said Charron is a professional in every sense of the word.
“The first thing I really noticed was his professionalism . . . his preparation for the interview,” said Bonner who, along with majority owner Tom Gaglardi, met Charron last week in Calgary.
“He knew our team. He had watched our team. He knew some of the personnel.”
Charron got glowing references from former Blazers — and now NHL — coaches Tom Renney and Ken Hitchcock, as well as Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who had Charron on his staff when he was the head man in Montreal.
“Those people talked highly of Guy,” Bonner said. “All have said he’s a good person . . . but they also said they’re not trying to sell him to us because he’s a good guy.
“They think he can help our program.”
Bonner said Ferguson and Smith will be better coaches for working with Charron.
“You . . . be a sponge. It’ll be great for their careers,” Bonner said. “They’re going to get used a lot. He’s going to lean on them a lot.”
Charron last coached two seasons ago, his third as an assistant with the Florida Panthers.
A coaching change there brought in Peter DeBoer and Charron left rather than accept a move into player development.
“I decided I needed to reassess what I wanted to do,” Charron said “and the organization wasn’t as inviting as it might have been.”
Charron has coaching experience with five NHL teams, including the Calgary Flames.
Just notes: The Saskatoon Blades are partial to home cooking this season, which wasn’t the case last winter when the club finished 21-12-2-1 at the Credit Union Centre, the WHL’s 10th-best home-ice slate. To date this fall, the Blades are a league-best 19-3-0-1 at home and GM/coach Lorne Molleken thinks he knows why. “Last year, we had so much success and maybe we weren’t ready to handle it yet,” Molleken told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “This year, our group is more mature and that shows in some of the hockey games we’ve won. We’ve had really close, hard-fought games.” Added veteran defenceman Sam Klassen: “This year, we’ve been playing the game that we need to play both at home and on the road. It really shouldn’t make any difference where you play because every night you have to bring everything you have to the table. We’ve found some consistency as a team and we’re really happy with the way we’ve been playing both at home and away.” . . . Still with the Blades, Credit Union Centre was fitted with a brand-new, state-of-the-art scoreclock this week. Unlike its larger predecessor, the new clock actually hangs over centre ice. And, according to Cory Wolfe of the Star-Phoenix, the new video screens have higher resolution than those in some NHL arenas. The scoreboard and power ribbons cost $1.2 million, a bill subsidized by federal and provincial grants totalling about $567,000. CUC and the Blades paid the remaining cost . . . The Medicine Hat Tigers have lost 19-year-old Czech forward Zdenek Okal for an extended period of time due to a severed right wrist he suffered last Friday in a game versus the Prince Albert Raiders. The Czech winger was accidentally cut on the wrist by the skate blade of a Raiders player and will be lost to the Tigers for six to eight weeks. “They had to sew a vein or an artery, I don’t know which one, back together,” Tigers associate coach Shaun Clouston told the Medicine Hat News. “Then, there was a nick on one of the tendons. It is not severe. There was also a fairly major nerve that had to be put back as well. Basically, he is going to be really careful right now. He is in a cast.” The Tigers have added 18-year-old winger Josh Lazowski to their list as a result. The five-foot-nine, 170-pound Lazowski, who was once property of the Red Deer Rebels before being dropped, is the leading scorer with Spruce Grove of the AJHL and will likely suit up with the Tigers when they are in Red Deer on Saturday.
On the move: The Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks were trading partners on Thursday, with 19-year-old defenceman Travis Bobbee heading east to Saskatchewan in return for overage blueliner Eric Doyle. Bobbee, from Arborg, Man., is in his fourth WHL season and had two goals and eight points in 28 games this fall. Doyle was the Broncos’ most experienced player with 268 WHL games, and has three goals and 16 points this season.