The waiting game with the Kootenay Ice's coaching situation is finally over as the club has turned to a former bench boss who helped lay a successful foundation in the early part of the franchise's existence in Cranbrook.
Ryan McGill will return to coach the team next season and has signed a three-year contract, announced Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth, on Wednesday.
McGill manned the bench from 1997-2002, making the move with the franchise from Edmonton to Cranbrook, winning two WHL championships and a Memorial Cup over his tenure.
McGill went pro after capturing major-junior hockey's most coveted trophy, first in the AHL for seven years split between the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights/Quad City Flames.
He was promoted to an assistant coaching position in the NHL with the Calgary Flames in 2009, but the club dropped him after his second season.
Not only does McGill have an extensive coaching record in major-junior and professional hockey, but he also spent some time as a player in the NHL in the early 1990s.
"He played in the NHL and that's what players want, is to get to the NHL and players can relate to him in that sense," said Chynoweth. "He's played in the NHL, coached in the NHL, coached in the American Hockey League, he's coached at all the highest levels, and he's won.
"I think there is no substitute for experience and winning."
McGill took a break from hockey over the last year and worked in the oil and gas industry out of Calgary to experience a new challenge.
He had opportunities to get back in the coaching game over that time, but nothing came up that he felt was the right fit, until Chynoweth and the Kootenay Ice came knocking.
"I'm totally thrilled," said McGill, in a phone interview. "Honestly, I'm so excited to get to work with these young kids and our staff-I'm really excited to get going with the staff. I just love how Jeff runs the team.
"It's kind of a new turn in the team's existence because we're going to be young, we're going to have lots of skill, it's going to be exciting and it's just one of those things where I think the timing is going to be perfect and it's a chance for us to build something great again."
In his first five-year stint as Kootenay's bench boss, McGill built up a regular-season record of 174-133-43, which included back-to-back 100-point campaigns.
He led the team to the first two WHL championships in 2000 and 2002 and earned a Memorial Cup in the club's second appearance at the CHL's top tournament.
His time outside of hockey over the last year gave him some perspective on his coaching career, but he also enjoyed spending a more relaxed winter season with his wife and two young daughters.
However, when the chance to come back to Cranbrook and work with Chynoweth and the Ice came up, McGill couldn't turn it down.
"I have so much respect for the Chynoweth family that it was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up," he said.
Now that the Ice general manager has his head coach, the next order of business will likely be finding an assistant for McGill.
The new head coach will be in for a challenge next year, as he inherits a younger team, which also includes two 18-year-old Czechs picked up at the CHL Import Draft last week.
McGill becomes the sixth head coach in franchise history, taking over from Kris Knoblauch, who manned the Ice bench for the last two seasons, and worked as an assistant two more before that.