With an apparently choice between two coaches who have NHL experience and a major junior track record, the Victoria Royals have hired the one with more recent success in the latter realm.
The Royals, after speculation on Wednesday that they would hire former Ottawa Senators coach Cory Clouston, are going with former Calgary Flames assistant coach Dave Lowry. Lowry, of course, guided the Calgary Hitmen to a 122-point season and to within one game of the Western Hockey League championship during his lone season with that team in 2009 before going on staff with the Flames.
From Cleve Dheensaw and Mario Annicchiarico, prior to the announcement:
Lowry did not return calls Wednesday evening but was said to be en route to the B.C. capital.Royals GM Cam Hope interviewed several people for the open head-coaching position, including Lowry and other former WHL coaches Mark Holick, Kris Knoblauch and Cory Clouston.
"I have no comment," said former Brandon Wheat Kings coach Clouston, when reached Wednesday.
In an interview earlier this summer, Lowry expressed qualified interest in the Royals' coaching vacancy. His son and 2011 NHL draft pick, Joel Lowry, played two seasons for the Victoria Grizzlies of the B.C. Hockey League. (Victoria Times-Colonist)
(TSN's Darren Dreger tweeted it while I was in the course of typing this up.)
Many factors surely went into the Royals' pending decision, but it's hard to escape the conclusion there was an immediacy factor regarding Clouston's rough finish in Brandon. The former Sens coach's transition to coaching teenagers was, to put it politely, rather choppy and the Wheat Kings were perceived as an underachieving team after losing 4-0 to eventual WHL champion Edmonton in the second round. Had the Royals hired him, it would have been ironic since Victoria traded its best player, Buffalo Sabres prospect Kevin Sundher, to Brandon last season when it was looking for a shot in the arm.
Lowry, on the other hand, has a good reputation at the junior level after his success with the Hitmen. He also has that aforementioned connection to the city through his son, who plays for the NCAA's Cornell Redmen.
With Victoria naming its new coach today and Brandon promoting Dwayne Gylywoychuk yesterday, every WHL head coaching position is accounted for, barring anyone moving to the NHL or AHL.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.