A New Era for the Winter Hawks

by Steve, July 18th, 2007

The Portland Winter Hawks announced today that they have not renewed the contract for head coach Mike Williamson.

The new ownership group that took over the team last season, vowing to stick to business and let the hockey guys run hockey, have instead stepped into the thick of it. Director of player personnel Gord Loiselle resigned this spring, and now this.

I’ve not been a big fan of Mike Williamson as coach. He’s been very consistent in middle-of-the-pack finishes and early playoff elimination. His teams have also consistently led the WHL in penalty minutes, a stat that either indicates a lack of discipline or nothing at all, if you believe the Hawks’ broadcasters. His record as head coach is pretty darn close to .500. I thought we could have used a new coach two seasons ago.

That said, I’m a little nervous about owner Jim Goldsmith as director of hockey operations. Longtime G.M. and former owner Ken Hodge has been very loyal to Williamson, and for the good of the team’s future, maybe this had to be done. But hopefully Goldsmith will allow Hodge latitude in choosing the next coach, and maybe we’ll even get to see Hodge return to his old spot behind the bench as interim coach.

Hodge is a legend in the WHL. He was instrumental bringing Canadian major junior hockey to the United States, and it would be a shame if he were pushed out by the new ownership group. He brought this team to Portland over thirty years ago, and was instrumental in all of its successes over the years.

Mike Williamson is a great guy. The few times I personally interacted with him, he was always pleasant, and he obviously has a great love of the game and a great interest in being a teacher. I wish him the best in whatever he chooses to do next.

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