The Olds Grizzlys started another new era of their franchise in the Alberta Junior Hockey League on the weekend.
The team announced Garry VanHereweghe as their new GM and associate coach along with Joe Murphy as the head coach during a press conference at the CLC Fitness Centre at Olds College on Saturday.
Murphy served as an assistant last year in Olds and VanHereweghe has had a long career in junior hockey management as a coach and a GM. He recently served as the VP of Hockey Operations for the Canmore Eagles.
“We figured we wanted to keep some stability from last year. Somebody that the players were familiar with. Somebody that could do the job, but didn’t have a lot of experience as a head coach,” Said Friends of the Grizzlys president Darcy Dallas said Saturday.
“Luckily, we were able to reach out to Mr. VanHereweghe, who has a wealth of knowledge coaching and GMing. After Garry committed, we knew it was a no-brainer. So we went with that combination which we know will be very successful.”
Murphy was part of the coaching staff for the Grizzlys last year that had a less than stellar 18-37-5 record and a last-place finish in the AJHL South Division. Murphy played during his AJHL career in Olds and won an RBC Cup (Centennial Cup) with the Grizzlys in 1994.
“I was the beneficiary of a lot of people’s hard work, for me to come back home and do this and help out with a program with Garry and the executive is really important to me,” Murphy said.
“It’s a project I welcome and I take seriously. I’m very excited to work with Garry and utilized his tools and his knowledge as well as that of the executive.”
VanHereweghe was an assistant GM and coach for the Lloydminster Bobcats in 2016 when they hosted the RBC Cup. The Lacombe native was an assistant coach in olds from 1990-1992, then the head coach in 1998-2000.
“My hockey roots started here as a coach and general manager 20 years ago. I guess I can call it home as well. A bit of a homecoming,” he said.
“Start your career somewhere and know you can go back and finish your career and help put that piece back together the way you would like to see that is a great opportunity for me.”
VanHereweghe acknowledged there’s a lot to do with the franchise but believes over the summer they’ll install a solid plan and be ready for the fall.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We know that going in. We’re not coming here and sit and think it will fall in place. We’re going to have to take a lot of action and get a lot of people into place to get into together,” he said.
The Grizzlys also held their spring camp on the weekend and signed 18-year-old forward Josh McNeil, who played last season with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. McNeil played four games this season for Olds.