Lakers' actions 'a joke,' says ex-coach Vancoillie

Article content

So much for stability. So much for having a plan and a vision.

When the Wallaceburg Lakers hired Rick Vancoillie as head coach in March, they praised his work as a championship minor hockey coach with local roots and saw him as the long-term answer for the junior 'C' hockey team.

Vancoillie told the Courier Press in August he wanted to bring long-term stability to the Lakers – something they've lacked the last six seasons.

Turns out long-term means eight games.

The Lakers fired their entire coaching staff following Wednesday's loss to the Blenheim Blades.

It's not the first time the Lakers' owners and executive have stressed over losses. New head coach John Hartig of Port Huron is their 10th head coach in the past six-plus seasons.

John Hartig Jr. and Nick Hartig are the assistant coaches.

The Lakers have missed the playoffs six straight years and are now in last place in the Provincial Junior Hockey League's Stobbs Division with a 1-7-0-0 record.

Vancoillie said the current executive and owners don't know a lot about hockey and are unorganized.

“It's just a joke, ...we don't even have (full) uniforms yet,” Vancoillie said, noting he and his staff were blindsided with the firings.

Vancoillie said he received a text from Lakers general manager Ritch Kanally that the executive was looking at making a coaching change due to the team's struggles.

The Lakers are young, Vancoillie said, and while they have some good third- and fourth-line talent, they lack elite scorers.

“We're two to three guys away from being right with everybody else,” Vancoillie said. “... We've said that, all the guys say that, and all of a sudden you get blindsided.

“They (owners and executive) really are dysfunctional. … They really don't know what they're doing. They constantly point fingers at everybody else. There is a couple good guys on there, don't get me wrong. For the most part they don't have a clue.”

All of the communication about the coaching change was done by text, Vancoillie said.

“I thought it was a joke and cowardly,” he said. “But whatever, it is what it is.”

Assistant coaches Ed Burm and Luke Blackbird and goalie coach Justin Allaer were also let go.

Vancoillie said as recently as five weeks ago, the coaching staff heard feedback from one owner who praised them for being on the same page and were told they could coach as long as they wanted.

“We were all excited for this (opportunity),” Vancoillie said.

Kanally released a statement Friday morning confirming the moves.

“We wish Rick, Ed, Luke, and Justin all the best in the future endeavours. This year is crucial for the Lakers and after losing the last six games and with nearly 25% of the season gone we needed to make a change. ”

Vancoillie said he will continue to be a fan of the Lakers, and his son will continue to play for them.

Hartig, whose grandson is a Lakers rookie, coached the Port Huron 'AA' midget team last season.



Article content

News Near Chatham

This Week in Flyers