Colts won’t rush search for new assistant coach

Empty spot on the bench after Chris Dennis was named head coach of the Kitchener Rangers

The search is on for a new assistant coach, but the Barrie Colts say they’ll take their time and make sure they get someone who is the right fit.

The Colts find themselves with an empty spot on the bench after associate coach Chris Dennis was named the new head coach of the Kitchener Rangers.

While that leaves the Colts once again searching for help on the bench, general manager and head coach Marty Williamson is going to take his time going through the long list of names that have already expressed an interest in joining the team.

“I don’t think we’re in a rush,” Williamson said from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where he is vacationing with his family. “I’ve obviously been inundated with resumes and people reaching out for other people. When these jobs open, they’re highly coveted.”

Williamson said he’s happy to see Dennis get the opportunity to run his own bench and admits he isn’t surprised the talented coach was hired as head coach after spending only a year in the league with Barrie.

I’m a huge fan of Chris,” Williamson said of Dennis who spent 10 seasons as both a video coach and assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs and three years in the Vegas Golden Knights organization as an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. “I knew the time was going to come for him at some point.

“I think he’s extremely grateful for the opportunity he got with us, but I’m extremely grateful to have gotten to know him better. He’s a good coach, and he’s going to do well.”

Williamson thought he hit a homerun in having Dennis join the Colts coaching staff aside assistant coach Taylor Carnevale, goalie coach David Belitski and himself.  

That’s the kind of guy I’m looking for,” he said of the search for a new coach. “A young, hungry guy that works that hard and wants to climb the ladder. That’s the process we’ll go through, and we’ll find a guy that’s a good fit.”

Williamson, who is going to fly to Montreal for the NHL Entry Draft later this week, was also busy acquiring a new goaltender earlier this week.

With star goaltender Mack Guzda making the jump to pro hockey, the Colts made a deal to land Anson Thornton from the Sarnia Sting.

The club got the signed Phoenix Coyotes prospect from the Sting along with a conditional 5th Rd. 2026 pick in return for a 2023 2nd Rd. pick, 2024 3rd Rd. pick and a 2026 5th Rd. pick.

“We feel pretty confident we’re getting him at his peak time,” Williamson said of Thornton. “He worked out with (Belitski) and Dave was very enthusiastic about this guy, that he’s got it, and he’s excited for a big year.

He missed a year (due to the pandemic). He grew and got strong and went to (Arizona) camp and impressed them, so they signed him.”

Thornton was behind San Jose Sharks standout Ben Gaudreau in the Sarnia crease and though he still got into 26 games last season, the 19-year-old was looking for an opportunity as a starter.

“He was OK with his ice time, but he wants to play more,” said Williamson. “We think he’s ready to play more, so we did our homework, and he seems to be an outstanding young man. I really enjoyed talking to him when I talked to him about the trade and I really like to hear the excitement in his voice. We think we got a good one.”

With some tough decisions ahead on the three overage spots and five players vying for the coveted roles, including goalie Matteo Lalama, this provides the club with some insurance in goal.

“It allows us not to have an overage in that position,” said Williamson. “We’re not sure yet where things are at, but it gives us some options.”

banner image of Chris Dennis: CHL