Fri May 25 06:49pm EDT
Despite leading the Kootenay Ice to the 2011 WHL championship as a rookie head coach, Kris Knoblauch was told to clean out his office Friday by Ice president and GM Jeff Chynoweth.
It is rare to can a coach one year after his team hoists the Ed Chynoweth Cup. After all, it makes no sense for a team to make a coaching change when their current bench boss is a proven winner.
When this season ended, Knoblauch had one year left on his contract. Earlier this month, Chynoweth, convinced that his head coach was staying put, gave him a one-year extension through 2013-14.
At that time, Chynoweth said he knew Knoblauch was interested in returning to the U of A. At the same time, Chynoweth said he didn't know if he could wait until after May 15 to find out whether his coach was leaving.
When Chynoweth confirmed Friday morning that Knoblauch was pursuing the Golden Bears job, Chynoweth felt he had no choice but to relieve Knoblauch of his duties.
It makes sense Jeff Chynoweth didn't want to wait for whether his head coach would return; the same thing happened in Brandon with Cory Clouston (who coincidentally, is also an Alberta Golden Bears hockey alumnus). It would leave him in a tough spot if 33-year-old Knoblauch took off in June and there were no prime candidates to replace him with looking for work.
This speculation of Knoblauch's interest in the Golden Bears' opening was also pointed out by the Edmonton Journal's Evan Daum.
Knoblauch's dismissal was announced by the club Friday morning on their website, the same day interviews were expected to conclude for the vacant University of Alberta Golden Bears coaching job.
The Bears alumni has been rumoured as a possible candidate for the vacant Alberta coaching position, which became available at the end of March when interim head coach Stan Marple became the team's first general manager.
Later Frday, Daum reported via Twitter that Knoblauch hasn't been guaranteed the Golden Bears' job: "It's premature to make the assumption Knoblauch has been offered the Bears job since it wasn't officially confirmed he was even interviewed."
Nevertheless, at this point, it seems Knoblauch, who played for the Bears from 1999-2004, is one of the frontrunners for the University of Alberta position.
Kootenay management did not answer questions on the firing today. Therefore, it is somewhat vauge whether they will start their hunt for their next coach or whether they have already. However, the man who first reported the Knoblauch firing back on April 23 in his popular blog, Regina radio personality Rod Pedersen, stated confidently that Dean Chynoweth, the brother of Ice general manager Jeff, would be Kootenay's next head coach. Dean Chynoweth was recently let go by the New York Islanders.
Unquestionably, Knoblauch's interest in joining the Golden Bears is a major factor in his departure. Nonetheless, if Dean Chynoweth comes in as the next head coach of the Ice, one can't rule out the brother connection also being a compelling factor.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen.