The Vancouver Giants will have a familiar face running its hockey operations. The Western Hockey League club announced Glen Hanlon as the franchise’s second general manager taking over from the departed Scott Bonner.
Hanlon is no stranger to the hockey team as he served as an assistant coach from 2011-13 under then head coach Don Hay. Hanlon briefly took over the head coaching role in December 2011 when Hay left the club to coach Team Canada at the 2012 world juniors.
“He’s familiar with the scouting staff, the ownership and Glen’s a very popular man in this city,” said Bonner, who is in the middle of his first week working with the Edmonton-based hockey agency, The Sports Corporation. “I think when you look at (his resume) he’s run the Slovak federation for a while, he’s been in Belarus – his resume, he’s done a lot of things in hockey, he’s had a lot of success in hockey so I think the players are lucky that they’ve chosen a guy like Glen to do it.”
Giants majority owner Ron Toigo consulted Bonner prior to naming his replacement.
“I talked to Ron, Ron asked me, ‘How was Glen?' and when Glen was here, he was great to work with,” said Bonner. “When he was here, the players really enjoyed him, he’s an easy guy to be around, obviously a good hockey IQ and he was really close with Pat Quinn, one of the former owners.”
Bonner, who had been with the organization since its inception in 2001, was surprised at how long it took to find his replacement.
“It took a while. It took longer than I thought it would,” he said. “The reason I’d given Ron lots of notice in December, early December, was so he had a lot of time to find a guy. I think there’s been some challenges for Ron in that he wanted to be familiar with the guy.
“The cost of living in Vancouver has obviously been stated many a times and I think Ron wanted to do his due diligence and make sure that himself and the other owners were all on board and all on the same page as far as who they chose.”
Hanlon will now be tasked with finding a head coach for the struggling junior club.
Since Hay returned to Kamloops to coach the Blazers in 2014, the Giants have had four different head coaches, including Lorne Molken who was fired in March after leading the club to a 23-38-5-4 in his lone season behind the bench. Tyler Kuntz was named the club’s interim head coach for the final regular season game, a 10-1 loss to the Kelowna Rockets.
“I think when Glen comes in, now they have a guy who is going to be the general and I think the coach now is going to have to mesh with Glen,” Bonner said. “I think the most important thing is that the coach and GM are going to be on the same page and the ownership on the same page.
“Then once that’s clicking properly, then they’ll be able to pass the message down to the players, go out and talk to the players and I think it’s really important that they get out and visit the players or bring the players to town and get ahead of this thing because there’s a lot of work to do.”
Hanlon brings a wealth of experience to the WHL club.
The Manitoba native served as an assistant coach for both the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals. Hanlon, who spent parts of 16 seasons as a goaltender in the NHL, was the head coach of the Capitals for parts of three seasons compiling a 49-84-9-15 record.
After leaving the Giants in 2013, Hanlon coached the Belarus national team. In May 2014, the 59-year-old signed a two-year deal as the new head coach for the Swiss national team. However, Hanlon resigned last October and returned to North America.
He served as an assistant coach to Hall of Famer Bobby Orr behind the bench of Team Orr at the CHL Top Prospects game in January.
Hanlon inherits a team, which has struggled the last number of years.
At one time the Giants had a stretch of 10 consecutive seasons qualifying for the playoffs. They went to the WHL final in both 2006 and 2007 and won the Memorial Cup in 2007.
However in the past four seasons, the Giants have finished at the bottom of the B.C. Division three times while qualifying for the post-season in 2013-14.
Bonner cites injuries for the team’s struggles in recent years.
This past season's captain, and top prospect, Tyler Benson, who is expected to be a first-round pick in June, was limited to just 30 games due an inflamed pubic bone as a result of overcompensating following September's surgery to remove a cyst near his tailbone.
“Every team goes through it, but the players that have been injured have been key players and they weren’t injured for five games, they were injured for 25 games and that’s really hard to overcome,” Bonner explained. “I think if the team gets some help, (Glen) chooses a coach and obviously with Glen’s coaching pedigree, he’s going to be able to choose a coach to his liking.
“Then just getting the guys to buy in to whatever structure the coach decides to put in place because the reason guys like Don Hay are Don Hay is because they can convince kids and explain to them the plan and get them to follow the plan.”