According to the Calgary Hitmen in a press release on Wednesday, the Calgary Hitmen have decided to make a coaching change. The hockey club announced that Mike Williamson will not return for the 2014-15 Western Hockey League season.
Williamson had been with the Hitmen for five seasons. The Hitmen were Western Hockey League champions in 2010 in Williamson's first year as their head coach.
Prior to his time in Calgary, Williamson spent 15 years with the Portland Winterhawks, first as a player and then as a coach. In 2001, Williamson was named the Western Hockey League Western Conference coach of the year.
The Hitmen also announced that Joel Otto and Darcy Wakaluk, who had been assistants to Williamson this year, will remain with the hockey club. Otto, a former Calgary Flame, has spent the last seven years as the Hitmen assistant coach and should be considered a candidate to be the head coach.
Wakaluk meanwhile has spent the last ten years with the Hitmen, and looks after goaltenders. A native of Pincher Creek, Alberta, Wakaluk played in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes from 1988-1997.
Despite registering 103 points in the regular season, the Hitmen were upset 4-2 by the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Hitmen were the only team in the Westen Hockey League this season to register 100 points in the regular season and not advance to a Conference semifinal.
The Western Hockey League's Conference finals begin Friday evening with the Medicine Hat Tigers playing the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final and the Portland Winterhawks playing the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Conference final. The Oil Kings and Winterhawks have played in the last two WHL Finals. Edmonton won in 2012 and Portland won in 2013.