The last coaching vacancy for the 2018 SHL season has now been filled. The Dakota Jackalopes have been searching for a replacement after firing Harold Engellund at the end of the 2017 season. Now, after a lengthy set of interviews and at least one reported refusal, the Jackalopes have finally chosen Flim Dahlgren as their next bench boss.
“Obviously, this hasn’t been the quickest process,” said Jackalopes GM Paul Mindegaard. “But it’s been important for us to take the time and find the right man for this job. Flim is definitely the right man.”
There’s no doubt that Dakota’s coaching search was deliberate. It’s not clear, though, whether that was the Jackalopes’ doing. On the contrary, the league rumor mill suggests that if anything, Mindegaard was struggling to find someone willing to take the job.
Many around the league felt that Dakota had mistreated Engellund, a widely respected coach who had no trouble landing another job with Seattle. Prior to his dismissal, Engellund had frequently clashed with Mindegaard over roster construction and the direction of the franchise. Also, Dakota reportedly plans to cut payroll and move several star players this offseason. Those factors may have combined to make the job less appealing.
The candidates who the Jackalopes interviewed included Engellund’s former assistant Manfred Obronski, minor league coach Ross Roberts, Michigan assistant Morris Thompson, Anchorage assistant Kyle Barrow, and Omaha Ashcats coach Randy Bergner. Reportedly, after the first round of interviews, Mindegaard offered the job to Bergner. But Bergner turned the job down, choosing instead to become the first coach of the expansion Kansas City Smoke. It’s also reported that Barrow was also uninterested, although it’s not known whether he was formally offered the job.
Finally, the Jackalopes settled on Dahlgren, who served last year as assistant coach of the Minnesota Freeze, Anchorage’s minor-league affiliate. Previously, the 45-year-old has served as a junior coach and as a scout. This is not the first time that Dahlgren has been considered for a head-coaching job in the SHL. Last offseason, he was interviewed by the New York Night for their opening; they ultimately went with Nick Foster.
“I am very excited for this opportunity,” said Dahlgren. “I know the fan base here is very passionate, like a junior team. I look forward to giving these fans a team they can be passionate about.”
The Jackalopes players, many of whom were loyal to Engellund and are worried about their own futures, greeted the news with mixed emotions. “I think Coach Engellund left behind some big shoes to fill,” said LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston. “I haven’t met the new guy yet, but I’m sure he wants to succeed, just like we all do. Hopefully we get that chance.”