Eleven years, one Memorial Cup championship and three WHL finals appearances later, Dallas Gaume is leaving the Red Deer Rebels.
The club announced Thursday morning that Gaume had resigned his post as assistant coach and the long-time employee confirmed the move later in the day.
“This is something I’ve been thinking about for a few years and I think it’s time to move on,” he said.
Gaume joined the Rebels on a part-time basis in 1999, shortly after Brent Sutter purchased the club and appointed himself as general manager/head coach. A year later, the former University of Denver star forward, minor pro scorer and Norwegian player/coach was hired as a full-time assistant.
In his first season as Sutter’s full-time right-hand man, Gaume helped guide the Rebels to WHL and Memorial Cup championships.
“That was exciting, a highlight for sure,” said the 46-year-old, who was inducted into the U of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000 and had one goal and one assist in four NHL games with the Hartford Whalers during the 1988-89 season.
“Overall, it’s been a good ride. I’ve made a lot of good friends and had a lot of fun.”
Gaume doesn’t have any immediate plans regarding employment.
Sutter, reached at his Calgary residence, wasn’t surprised that the Innisfail native had called it quits.
“Dallas has been (a Rebels assistant coach) for a long time now,” said the Rebels owner/president and Calgary Flames head coach. “It’s been 11 years that he’s been a part of our organization. He’d given it (resigning) some thought a couple of years ago before deciding to stay on.
“At the end of the day, between Dallas and Jesse (head coach/vice-president of hockey operations Wallin), maybe they agreed that this was the right thing to do.”
Sutter greatly valued Gaume’s contributions to the franchise over the years.
“Absolutely, not too many people in the coaching fraternity — at any level — have been inside of one organization as long as he’s been,” said Sutter. “He was a big part of what was accomplished there as well as getting the team turned around the last couple of years.
“I’m proud of Dallas and the job that he did. But it does run its course and with Dallas maybe he felt that, and Jesse might have felt it, too.”
With Gaume out of the picture, assistant coach Bryce Thoma will assume a larger role with the team.
“Bryce is ready to take the next step and I know Jesse feels that way,” said Sutter. “There could be a possibility in the future of adding a second (assistant), but I’m leaving that up to Jesse to decide.”
Wallin, who was unavailable for comment, lauded Gaume in a press release statement.
“We would like to thank Dallas for his efforts and commitment to our organization over the past 11 years,” said Wallin. “He’s been a big part of this team for a long time, and though he will be missed, we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
• Go east young man, go east.
Red Deer products and graduating Swift Current Broncos players Derek Claffey and Michael Stickland will take their skills to the Maritimes this fall.
Claffey, a defenceman and the Broncos’ captain in 2009-10, has committed to playing university hockey for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men next season, while Stickland is also going the university route and will suit up with the defending Canadian champion St. Mary’s Huskies.
Stickland admitted it will be somewhat strange competing against two of his former Broncos teammates next season. Spencer McAvoy will be entering his second season with the X-Men.
“I don’t know what it will be like, especially after playing with both of them,” Stickland told Chris Jaster of the Swift Current Prairie Post. “It will be weird. I guess that’s the nature of the
beast, but we’ll see. I’ll have to keep my head up.”
Neither Stickland nor Claffey has given up the dream of playing pro hockey. But both decided that taking advantage of the WHL scholarship program — the cost of their tuition and books will be covered for four years — was the wise step.
“Ideally I’d like to move on and play pro hockey somewhere, but a lot more people nowadays are going to school and the AUS is a real competitive league. If you take advantage of it, you can use it as a stepping stone,” said Claffey, who will major in business at St. FX.
Stickland, who was also approached by the universities of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Calgary and Dalhousie, will major in commerce at St. Mary’s.