Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vipers In Good Hands:

This is in todays Morning Star Newspaper:

Vipers in good hands

by  Kevin Mitchell - Vernon Morning Star

Sep 14, 2014

Who’s going to be the next head coach of the Vernon Vipers? If I pocketed a toonie for every time I was asked that, I could buy shares in the new Las Vegas NHL team.

The BCHL Vipers are receiving e-mailed resumes every 10 minutes and owner Duncan Wray is conducting interviews by phone from his primary home in Victoria and preparing a shortlist.

Or is he simply going through the process to see who’s out there and waiting for Mark Ferner to leave the Kamloops Blazers as an associate coach with Don Hay? Ferner, if you just moved here, guided the Snakes to three straight Royal Bank Cup appearances, winning two titles and losing 2-1 in the final of the third try.

Some say the Vipers would have won the RBC on home ice if Ferner was at the helm and not the much younger Jason Williamson, who had served under Ferner.

Maybe, but Williamson, who has a great eye for talent and pulled off some excellent trades, somehow got the Vipers past the highly favoured Penticton Vees in the Interior Conference final. In Game 7 on the road. Pretty impressive.

It wasn’t Williamson’s fault his No. 1 goalie, Austin Smith, had his worst first period of the season, in a semifinal loss to the eventual champion Yorkton Terriers.

This would have been Willy’s year to prove he was worthy of the job. Through solid recruiting and some luck – Thomas Aldworth – landed here after confusing Langley with Vernon, the Vipers are young, but skilled. Reaching the playoffs was realistic and would have taken some superior coaching by Willy.

Williamson, who owns a teacher’s degree from Niagara University in New York State, will take time to get his personal life sorted out. I hope somebody gives him another chance down the road.

In the meantime, Wray has the luxury of talented 25-year-old Kevin Kraus and ex-NHLer Eric Godard running the show. From all reports, Kraus did a fabulous 70-hour a week job as head coach/GM of the Revelstoke Grizzlies for two years.

Kraus and Godard, who practised daily with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for more than two years in Pittsburgh, are both head coaching material, but must pay their dues. Whether it’s Ferner coming home or somebody else with a five-star background, the Vipers are in good shape.

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