The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club today announced Jeff Chynoweth as general manager, Dallas Ferguson as head coach and Dallas Thompson as director of player personnel. Ferguson along with assistant coaches Trent Cassan and Joel Otto and goaltending coach Jason LaBarbera will form the coaching staff for the 2017-18 Western Hockey League season.
“We are very fortunate and proud to have the opportunity to add the experience and expertise of this group to the Hitmen organization,” said Hitmen vice president and alternate governor Mike Moore. “It is a dynamic core that we have assembled with a track record of success.”
Chynoweth has been a prominent fixture in the WHL for over 30 years, most recently completing his 16th season with the Kootenay ICE. During his expansive tenure with Kootenay (2001-17), he held the roles of owner, president and general manager. Under his leadership, the ICE claimed three WHL titles (2000, 2002 and 2011), captured the coveted Memorial Cup in 2002 and earned the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the league’s top regular season club during the 2004-05 campaign. That same 104-point season saw the WHL name the 50-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, Executive of the Year. Before joining the ICE franchise, Chynoweth held several business and hockey operations positions with the Red Deer Rebels (1991-95), Lethbridge Hurricanes (1989-91), Brandon Wheat Kings (1988-89), Medicine Hat Tigers (1987-88) and Spokane Chiefs (1986-87).
“The opportunity to work with one of the premier organizations in the entire Canadian Hockey League does not come along very often,” said Chynoweth. “For my family and I to be able to come back to Calgary and work in our hometown after being away for 30 years is a dream come true. I am looking forward to working with Mike, coach Ferguson, Dallas and the entire Hitmen hockey staff.”
Ferguson, from Wainwright, Alberta, recently completed his ninth season as head coach of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks (NCAA Division I) following four seasons as assistant coach with the men’s hockey program from 2004-08. After taking the reins in May 2008, Ferguson guided the team to a fourth-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and earned Coach of the Year honours in 2008-09. He then made program history the following season when the Nanooks made their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Ferguson, who has coached over 30 players who have gone on to play professionally, led the collegiate club to eight consecutive Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup titles, four CCHA home playoff series (winning three) and five non-conference tournament titles. Prior to joining Alaska, the 44-year-old spent two seasons in the North American Hockey League as assistant coach of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank the Calgary Hitmen and in particular Ken King and Mike Moore for the head coaching opportunity,” commented Ferguson. “I’m honoured to be part of this great organization in the Western Hockey League. I look forward to working with and learning from such a knowledgeable and experienced group of people.”
Before his coaching career, Ferguson spent parts of four seasons patrolling the blueline with the ECHL’s Richmond Renegades and Alaska Gold Kings and Anchorage Aces of the West Coast Hockey League from 1996-00. He joined the professional ranks following a successful collegiate campaign with the Nanooks (1992-96) where recorded 104 career points (17, 87a), served as captain during his senior year and was a three-time recipient of the Shawn Chambers Top Defenseman Award.
Thompson, who joined the Hitmen in July 2015 as British Columbia scouting director, has more than 17 years of scouting and WHL managerial experience. The 43-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., first stepped in to the league as a player, wearing the ‘C’ with the Tacoma Rockets from 1992-95, before moving to the Prince George Cougars in the late 1990s. There he made the transition to coaching and management, serving as the Cougars assistant coach (1998-00), assistant general manager (2000-04) and general manager (2004-14).
“I am honoured and proud to continue working with the Hitmen and their storied tradition,” said Thompson. “I am excited for the upcoming season and look forward to working with Mike, Jeff, Dallas and the rest of the coaching staff and scouts.”