Perhaps the worst kept secret in Kamloops hockey was confirmed Wednesday as the Kamloops Storm named former Blazers and NHL defenceman Greg Hawgood as head coach.
General manager Barry Dewar made the announcement during a press conference at the McArthur Island Sports and Events Centre, alongside assistant general manager Gary Donaldson.
"Obviously, I am really excited," Hawgood said. "I've been out of coaching just long enough to really miss it and I am very fortunate to have this opportunity."
Hawgood took over as head coach of the Blazers on Nov. 7, 2008, following the dismissal of Dean Clark. Despite having one year left on his contract, Hawgood was dropped by the Blazers last summer.
With the Storm, he replaces co-coaches Ed Patterson and Steve Passmore, both of whom stepped down after last season. Both had spent two seasons with the Storm.
Passmore and Patterson led the team to the KIJHL final during both of their campaigns, something of which Hawgood is well aware. He said the Storm is a winning team, a tradition he intends to continue.
"With the winning tradition and the attitude around here, you don't have to change a lot of things. You just have to take the ball and run with it," he said.
"This is a winning team here and a great franchise. I just want to expand on that."
Which isn't to say Hawgood expects to keep everything as is. Training camp starts Aug. 29 and the exhibition season kicks off three days later.
He said every player, even those on the roster, has to earn his place on the team. That includes Hawgood's son, Logan, who will vie for one of two spots for 16-year-olds on the Storm.
Hawgood played for the Junior Oilers/Blazers from 1983-88 and is the team's all-time leader in points by a defenceman. He retired in 2006 after a 19-year professional career and moved back to Kamloops.
Hawgood, in his first taste of coaching at any level, guided the Blazers to a 21-32-1-1 record before being swept out of the first playoff round by the Tri-City Americans.
Hawgood hopes his limited experience on the bench will be offset by his years of experience on the ice. He said he has played in championships at all different levels and considered himself a thinking, puck-moving player in his day.
"It's pretty much what you need to teach: puck possession and offence. That's pretty much how I made my living," he said.
"I think I can pass that on. Systematically, in preparation, I've had a lot of years of watching it and realizing what works and what doesn't."
And Hawgood doesn't feel any extra pressure with the team playing host to the Keystone Cup when the six-team Western Canadian junior B championship comes to town in April.
"I just find it an added bonus," he said.
Hawgood also works as a guard at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.