Sailors Hire Ex-Dakota Coach Engellund

When the Dakota Jackalopes fired coach Harold Engellund at the end of the 2017 season after a three-season tenure, it seemed likely that he would land a job elsewhere in fairly short order.  That happened today, as the Seattle Sailors announced that they had hired Engellund as head coach, replacing Stewart Corrigan.

“We’ve been looking for the coach who can take our team to the next level,” said Sailors GM Jay McKay.  “Harold checks all the boxes for us.  We’re really glad to have him.”

Harold Engellund

After dismissing Corrigan, whose frequent temperamental outbursts were legendary, the Sailors were looking for a calmer hand on the tiller. In addition, with a fairly young roster, Seattle wanted to find an experienced bench boss.  The 59-year-old Engellund has over 25 seasons of coaching experience, and his even-keeled demeanor couldn’t be more different from the volatile Corrigan.

“Harold is everything we’re looking for in a coach,” said McKay.  “He’s an experienced teacher, the perfect man to mold a young roster and help us grow.  And he’s also a stable, calming personality, which is definitely a good change of pace for us.”

Engellund was well-liked by both players and fans in Dakota; he compiled an 84-85-11 record during his time there.  But he frequently clashed with the front office over roster decisions and the direction of the team.  After compiling a 22-35-3 record in 2016, a season when the Jackalopes were expected to contend, Engellund was dismissed.

“It was a shame the way things ended for Dakota, but it worked out for the best,” said Engellund.  “They obviously wanted to go in a different direction, and I wasn’t going to fight about it.  Now I’m here in Seattle, which is a great city, and I’ve got the chance to work with a great young team.  I’ll miss the players in Dakota, but I can’t wait to get started here.”

Engellund said that he had also interviewed with the expansion Kansas City Smoke, but that he was drawn to the Sailors “because they’re a little further along.  With an expansion team, it’s a pig in a poke.  You have no idea what you’re getting.  Here in Seattle, we’ve got some fast, young players and good scorers.  It reminds me a lot of the situation in Dakota, actually.”

The coach said that he’d like to see the Sailors get to a .500 record in his first year, and go to the playoffs in “two or three years.  I know it’s a tough division – Anchorage and Michigan are both tough teams – but I think we can take a run at them.”

 

 

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Smoke Announce First Coach, Sign First Player

The Kansas City Smoke, one of the SHL expansion teams set to debut in 2018, held a press conference today at Heartland Telecom Center to introduce their coaching staff and their first-ever player.

“We know the fans are getting excited to see the team take the ice next season,” said Smoke GM Garth Melvin.  “So we’re excited to introduce them to some of the faces they’re going to see when they come to the arena.”

Randy Bergner

Kansas City’s new head coach will be a familiar face for fans of the SHL’s minor league.  Randy Bergner was the coach of the Omaha Ashcats, former affiliate of the Seattle Sailors.  Under Bergner’s leadership, the Ashcats finished with a 38-21-1 record, best in the league.  They were stunned in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Utah Owls.  Omaha will be Kansas City’s affiliate this coming season, and Bergner is excited to remain in the area and receive a promotion.

“When Garth called me and asked me to come in for an interview, I thought they were maybe looking at me to coach Omaha,” said Bergner.  “That sounded pretty great to me, because I’d enjoyed my time there and I wanted to stay.  But after we’d talked for a bit, I realized he was looking at me for the top job.  Even better!”

Bergner hopes to instill in the Smoke the same team-first spirit he oversaw with the Ashcats.  “We didn’t have a big star to build around in Omaha, so we focused on building a tight, cohesive unit,” Bergner told reporters.  “And that’s what I expect to do here.  That Three Musketeers all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude, that’s what we’re shooting for.”  The coach credited his assistant, Rex Claymore, with helping to create that spirit in Omaha; Claymore will join Bergner in KC.

Jon Rogers

Joining Bergner and Claymore at the press conference was the Smoke’s first official player: defenseman Jon Rogers.  The 22-year-old graduated from Minnesota State-Bemidji and went to training camp with Seattle on a professional tryout agreement, but failed to make the team.  He spent the season in the KHL instead, putting up 3 goals and 6 assists, but the British Columbia native was eager for an opportunity to return to North America.  Rogers is considered a stay-home blueliner who’s not afraid to scrap.

“I saw Jon in camp last season and I was impressed,” said Bergner.  “It was a numbers game when he got cut, but I definitely took his name down.  I felt he was a guy who could play at this level if he got a chance.  So when I got hired here, he was my first call.  After my wife, I mean.”

“I’m really grateful I made that much of an impression,” said Rogers.  “I’m honored to be the first official player for this franchise.  This is a terrific opportunity, and I hope I can make my career here.”

Melvin said that the coaches and player will spend the offseason visiting schools, shopping centers, and bars in the Kansas City area, meeting the locals and educating them about the Smoke and the SHL.  “We know the fans here might not be totally tuned in to hockey yet,” said Melvin.  “So we want to get out into the community, let ’em know we’re here, and get’ em fired up for the season to come.”