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Pearn decides to remain as assistant in Montreal

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EDMONTON — Edmonton Oil Kings general manager Bob Green was trying to hit a home run, trying to convince Perry Pearn to leave the Montreal Canadiens to coach his junior club in Pearn's hometown.

Green went down swinging when Pearn agonized over the idea, but turned it down.

Now, it's on to Plan B. Green, who fired Steve Pleau after the season, has interviewed Derek Laxdal, the East Coast Hockey League's coach of the year in Idaho, the University of Alberta Golden Bears' Eric Thurston, St. Albert Saints junior coach Steve Hamilton and former Atlanta Thrashers assistant Todd Nelson.

Laxdal, who might be getting some interest from teams looking to fill American Hockey League holes, may be the No. 1 candidate now. The former pro winger, who played 67 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, has coached five years in Boise. He played junior in Brandon, Portland and New Westminster.

Pearn, who once coached the NAIT Ookpiks and lives here in the summer months, was Green's likely No. 1 choice because of his resume -- he's been an NHL assistant coach since 1995 in Winnipeg, Ottawa, New York (Rangers) and Montreal. But, Pearn, who has one year left on his Canadiens' contract, weighed the lure of coaching major junior at home with his NHL post, and opted to stay where he was.

"It was a really tough decision," said Pearn. "Both Jacques (head coach Martin) and (GM) Pierre Gauthier were pretty positive with me. They didn't want to lose me. It was tough to turn my back on this ... there's friends and family and a home here and there were lots of positives (coaching the Oil Kings), but this is the Montreal Canadiens. A fabled franchise. We had a good run in the playoffs. I have a good rapport with the players there and I think it'll be an exciting next season."

Pearn coached junior in Medicine Hat in the early '90s, where he first ran into Green, who was also working for the organization. Several former NHL coaches -- Craig Hartsburg (Everett), Marc Habscheid (Chilliwack), Mike Johnston (Portland) and Mark Lamb (Swift Current) -- currently work in the WHL.

ON THE BENCH: Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk, a likely mid-first-round draft pick on June 25, was invited to Canada's summer development camp for the world under-20 championship in Buffalo over Christmas ... Oil Kings forward Michael St. Croix has been invited to the national under-18 training camp for the Ivan Hlinka tournament in August in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

jmatheson@thejournal.canwest.com

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