CHL Update: Oshawa Coach Williams Suffers Health Scare

In an era when hockey coaches are increasingly allergic to controversy and colorful quotes, Harvey Williams – in his first season behind the bench for the Oshawa Drive – stands out.

The 63-year-old Williams cheerfully admits that his nickname was “Hangover” during his playing days, and boasts that he can still drink his players under the table.  He motivates his players with saying such as, “Go out there and work your [expletive] off, because hard work makes you thirsty.  And the thirstier you are, the more beer you can drink after the game.”

Harvey Williams

Williams shuns the usual postgame clichés that other coaches rely on, saying: “Look, nobody here’s an idiot. If we got our [expletive] kicked, we all know it.  So I’m gonna come out and say we got our [expletive] kicked.  If I mumbled something about it being a ‘learning experience’ and we’re ‘focused on the next one,’ we all know that’s a bunch of crap.  So why bother?  I’d rather tell the ugly truth.”  If the Drive ever get in a line brawl, Williams says that he’ll join his players in the fray: “I know they’ve got my back, and I’ve got their back.  Anybody messes with my boys, they gotta answer to me.”

In short, Williams is a throwback to an earlier era, and his players enjoy it.  “He’s definitely not like any coach I’ve played for before,” said Drive C Pat Collistone.  “He’s serious about winning and working hard, but he keeps things fun and loose.”

Things took an unfortunate turn this week when Williams collapsed during Thursday’s game against the Virginia Rhinos.  The coach began feeling ill during the first period, complaining to assistant Rob Mancini that he was feeling dizzy and short of breath.  This did not stop the coach from getting into a shouting match with referee Doug Mollis over a disputed goal early in the second period.  About fifteen minutes later, Williams collapsed.

Mancini quickly drew the attention of the officials, who stopped play while both teams’ trainers rushed to Williams’ assistance. He was taken out of the arena on a stretcher as a hush fell over the crowd and the Oshawa players kneeled in a prayer circle.

“It was really a shock to all of us,” said RW Anders Pedersen.  “One minute, he was clapping and barking out shifts.  The next minute, he’s laying on the floor.”

Williams was rushed to the hospital, where it was determined that he had suffered a mild heart attack.  He was discharged the next morning.  “It’s revenge from my old man for all the heart attacks I caused him raising hell as a teenager,” he quipped after his release.

The coach wanted to get back to his duties right away, but the Drive, on the advice of team doctors, announced that Mancini will coach the team for the next week while Williams recuperates.

“I’ll be a good boy and sit in my rocking chair and take it easy for a week,” the coach told reporters.  “But I’ll be back out bending the elbow before you know it.  Save a barstool for ol’ Harvey!”

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