Thompson knows people watching him
Prince George Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson knows he’s under the microscope.
The head coach may contribute to the team’s performance on the ice, but Thompson plays a leading role in assembling the staff and roster of players. Coaches who have worked under Thompson since he took the assistant tag off his position in 2004 include Lane Lambert, Mike Vandecamp, Drew Schoneck, Wade Klippenstein (interim) and Dean Clark.
Joining the Cougars after the failed Clark experiment, Mark Holick is the latest head coach hired by the organization. The Cougars announced that Holick accepted the position during a press conference on Wednesday at CN Centre.
Holick accepted a three-year head coaching contract with the team that runs until 2016. The Cougars relieved Clark of his duties on Tuesday.
Clark still had one and a half seasons remaining on a five-year head coaching contract he signed with the Cougars in April 2009. In three and a half seasons with the team, he compiled a record of 83 wins, 163 losses, five overtime setbacks and 11 shootout defeats (83-163-5-11).
The Cougars’ struggles this season have been well-documented. Entering Wednesday’s home game against the Prince Albert Raiders, they were 14-26-2-4. With 34 points, they were ninth in the 10-team Western Conference.
Asked about accountability, Thompson said that they take a lot.
“We don’t want to be here. We shouldn’t be here,” he said. “I don’t think with our makeup, we were young and we needed to get those guys to Christmas, and we talked about that. But in the end, we didn’t take a step forward and now we have to. We’ve made a change here and we expect to take a step forward here. I think it’s always tough to go through, but I think our players are excited about it and certainly we want to take a step here. Our goal is to get to the playoffs and we need to do that here.”
Thompson noted that four individuals were shortlisted and interviewed for the position. Assistant coach Jason Becker applied, but wasn’t considered a leading candidate.
“I’ve talked to Jason all the way along here. He’s done a real good job for us,” Thompson said. “Obviously it was a big step for him to coach the Under-17 team (at the 2013 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Quebec). At some point, he’s going to have to go out here on his own and find a job and work his way up here, and we’ve talked about that numerous times along the way here.”
Becker didn’t criticize the Cougars for not landing the position.
“I’ve learned a lot from Dean and from Dallas here, and I need to probably just develop a little bit more and I think working with Mark will be another asset in helping my way into becoming a head coach one day.”