Coaches usually demur from being the focus of the story, but the Calgary Hitmen's Mike Williamson could star in The Chynoweth Redemption.
Williamson winning the Western Hockey League's Ed Chynoweth Cup with the Hitmen is the ultimate in a good coach crawling through the muck of a a bad situation and coming out the other end untouched, à la Andy Dufresne.
Williamson's Portland Winter Hawks teams typically posted solid records, until off-ice problems filtered down to ice level and he left after the 2006-07 season.
"... he was their head coach when the bottom fell out and the (Portland) franchise almost sank in the not-too-distant past. He ended up in a contract dispute with the then-ownership group and, as far as I’m aware, that situation still is before the courts in Portland. Williamson, for his part, won’t discuss the matter." (Taking Note)
It didn't mean he stopped being a good coach, and he was the right man to come in when the Hitmen needed a coach after Dave Lowry joined their staff of their Pengrowth Saddledome co-tenants, the NHL's Calgary Flames. As GM Kelly Kisio said.
"Look at his record. The years he put in Portland. The way he left wasn’t good, obviously, but he showed a lot of loyalty there. I did a ton of homework on him, talking with guys out west and to a man they all had good things to say. The experience he had there, both the ups and the downs, I thought would be essential because, as I said, I figured we’d be middle of the road; that we’d really have to battle to reach what Dave (Lowry)’s team did last year." (Calgary Herald)
The best revenge is living well, right? Williamson, notwithstanding any legal imbroglios with his former employers, found his way to one of the magnet organizations in the Canadian Hockey League, which drew 15,335 fans to Friday's championship-series clincher. (You'd think their co-tenants missed the playoffs or something.)
The Winter Hawks were eventually sold, and after absolutely nadiring with a 25-point season in '07-08, were competitive this season with 91 points and a playoff series win over Spokane.
Talk about a storyline for next week in Brandon. Williamson likely will be asked to address it.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Calgary Hitmen
- Portland Winter Hawks
- Western Hockey League
- Dave Lowry