Fans of the Sarnia Sting will see a familiar face behind the bench this season as Yahoo! Sports has learned former NHLer Trevor Letowski will be named assistant coach at a press conference Thursday.
According to OHL sources, Letowski, who spent the last two seasons playing for Barys Astana in the Continental Hockey League, will join the staff of head coach and GM Dave MacQueen for the 2010-11 season.
MacQueen refused to comment or confirm Letowski’s hiring, but says he’s confident he found the best fit for his club.
“We probably had a solid 20 to 25 résumés and then just word of mouth people expressing interest, so sifting through the résumés we had a lot of very qualified individuals,” MacQueen said. “But we identified this individual early in the process as he contacted us and once that took place it was just a matter of sitting down [and meeting].”
Letowski replaces former assistant Greg Walters, who left the Sting in March after eight seasons to move his family closer to the Toronto area, where he and his wife Stephanie were raised. Walters has since been hired as head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders.
“There’s going to be a transition period, there’s no question,” said MacQueen, adding he was sad to see the popular Walters leave. “Wally is still in town here and he’s already [met] the new guy and he’s trying to give him as much information he can before he moves on.”
The status of Sarnia assistant coach Tim Bacik is also uncertain, due to balancing the time commitment involved with the team and Bacik’s young family. If Bacik decides to leave, the Sting could be going through the hiring process once again.
MacQueen says previous coaching experience was not a must for the latest vacant position.
“First and foremost, we needed someone who could command respect right off the bat,” MacQueen said. “Experience in the coaching field wasn’t a prerequisite, but if they weren’t an experienced coach they would have needed to play a high level of hockey.
“The kids need to be able to respect a coach when he comes into the dressing room, and if he’s not experienced coaching-wise then playing-wise will do the same thing.”
Letowski, a 33-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ont., was drafted by in the seventh-round by the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes in 1997 and spent nine seasons in the league playing with Phoenix, Columbus, Vancouver and Carolina.
He spent three seasons in Sarnia from 1994-97 and was a popular player, having brought a gold medal to the city as a member of Canada’s winning world junior squad in 1997. The former captain is also fondly remembered in Sarnia for centering one of the top lines in franchise history along with flanks Wes Mason and Jon Sim. In the 1996-97 season, Letowski scored 35 goals and added 73 assists for 108 points in 55 games, and the line combined for a total of 294 points.
The Sting missed the playoffs this season after finishing last in the 20 team OHL with a 17-46-3-2 record. They will get the first pick in OHL's annual priority selection, which is scheduled for May 1 at 9 a.m. and conducted over the Internet.
Sources also suggest the Sting will take Russian-born Alexander Galchenyuk of the Chicago Young Americans with the top pick.