Monday, June 22, 2009

Chynoweth Wrap

There's a lot to go over from the last few days. Potential names are pouring in while the candidates within the organization are hoping they can get a shot and advance up the rankings.

I'll give some thoughts on Dean, but first here's some quotes from Friday's news conference...

"Obviously there's some mixed emotions with this type of move, but I am going to resign effective July 1st. I've taken a job with the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League as an assistant coach with Scott Gordon's coaching staff.

I look back five years ago and came into a situation here with an organization that gave me a chance to grow not only as a coach and a manager but develop a program that I know I'm extremely proud of. We've had a number of successes both on the ice and off." - Chynoweth.

"In the five seasons he was with our club, the changes have been dramatic. He leaves to his successor a strong and growing fan base, a talented and deep pool of young players, a renovated arena, a brand new dressing room and training facility, a winning hockey club and a solid organization who has benefited and developed through Dean's involvement with the Broncos." - Al Stewart, Board Chairman

"The tough part for me with the coaching hat on is leaving the players. The kids are what this game is all about. We have had some tremendous young men go though here that came in as young boys and left as men. That's probably the best part of junior hockey." - Chynoweth

"My wife Rebecca and I are extremely proud to have been here for five years. We've made a lot of friends and it'll be a tough move but one we look forward to with great anticipation.

My friends out east always ask me what's it like (in Swift Current)? I tell them it's like the movie Friday Night Lights. It's Swift Current. Where the kids go, people know them. Where I go people know me, where my family goes they know them. There's pressures with that. When you lose you hear about it, when you win you eat for free for a week." - Chynoweth.

"Moving forward I think the structure of the club will be dictated by the quality of applicants. The board has not made a cast in stone decision regarding split role or a dual role. We intend to interview and find the best candidate and then continue to build on recent success and towards a championship." - Al Stewart

"There's a sense of urgency. We certainly have no intention of dragging this process out but it is a process. We want to talk to all the people that are interested and make a decision from there."- Al Stewart


My take....

My personal thoughts first and foremost is a "Good for Dean" feeling. Five to seven years is about all you can ask for a Coach and or General Manager in a market. There's a certain shelf life that comes into play in the business. As I was told once "there's only so many ways to kick a garbage can".

I'm sure five to seven years in Swift Current is what the Chynoweth family planned on. Now it's onward and upward.

Where this hurts the Broncos the most is the influence and power at the league level the team is losing. A small market team has to claw and scratch for everything in a league with big fish at every corner.

Dean has the respect of everyone at WHL Head Office and the rest of the General Managers in the game. In the WHL shark tank it's survival of the fittest, sink or swim, eat or be eaten.

Dean did his best to look out for the best interests of the franchise and his name alone carried a lot of weight. That won't be replaced, I guarantee it.

He has a larger than life appeal that demands respect. You are never too comfortable around him and if you're perceived to be out of line he will check you. Trust me. I've seen it with his staff, his players and have fallen victim several times myself. In my opinion it's that type of mentality a General Manager or Head Coach needs. There's room to have a little fun but this isn't a country club. With Dean around, you have to be on your toes.

There's a lot of stories one could tell. I've personally witnessed all his highs and lows of the last five seasons. Dean lived and will go on with the mentality of never get too high and never get too low. When times were tough and the gun was pointed in his direction he was calm and cool. When the team rattled off 10 straight wins there was a smile, but never would complacency become an issue.

Dean's contacts at the NHL and WHL level is impressive. It's another aspect that you can't take for granted. It's a personal and professional edge. He's plugged in and has developed a lot of relationships through the game.

On the coaching side he always took heat for "not talking to the players". It's probably what most of the fans talk about when it comes to his coaching style. He's not a cheerleader on the bench. It seems some fans always found flaws in his style.

From his colleagues he's a respected coach. Every other league personnel went out of their way to tell me how good of a job they thought he was doing when we talked. They know Swift Current and some of the smaller markets are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to some aspects of the league. Several were impressed with the way he handled his business with his hands being tied in some instances.

To close, I think the Broncos are losing a big element and a strong voice. With that said, there are several strong candidates out there and a lot of capable people. The Broncos will find a solid replacement moving forward.

Doing both jobs is tough. I fully expect the Broncos to split the duties moving forward unless something blows them away at the interview table.



I thought I would try to give a five-year review of the team of the "Chynoweth Years".

Let's get into it.


Dean was hired in June of 2004 and was quick to use the term "rebuilding phase". The team was offensively starved due to the departure of some key players. An early season trade of Alex Leavitt to Everett further put the team behind the 8-ball offensively.

The Central division was full of powerhouses that year and is became obvious by Christmas the Broncos were going to miss the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

A trade deadline deal which sent Tyler Redenbach to Lethbridge stripped the Broncos of any natural offensive talent. The trade really didn't stalk the shelves moving forward. D R.J Larochelle, 20 year-old F Justin Cruse and F David Murray was the return.

It was a much anticipated deal but one Bronco fans and Dean Chynoweth were expecting more from to say the least.

Somehow, the team found a way to win 22 games while only scoring 140 goals that season. The goal total was the lowest in CHL history.

It was a tough year for all involved. There was hope for the future though. The team would land the #2 overall bantam pick for the summer while prospects like Travis Yonkman and Kyle Bortis were making noise with the Saskatoon Contacts as National "AAA" midget champions.

There was light at the end of the tunnel.


Optimism was returning to Bronco nation but the feeling was the team was still a ways from making some noise under the guidance of Chynoweth.

An early season trade shipped D David Schulz to Spokane for speedy F Ned Lukacevic. Ned turns head immediately in Swift Current with a five-goal game in his home debut. What a night. Sadly that night would account for 20% of his season goal production ending the year with 25 tallies.

With a strong group of 17 year-olds getting quality ice-time (Levi Nelson, Dale Weise, Spencer McAvoy, Kyle Bortis, Karl Benke, Travis Yonkman, Zack Smith) the Broncos were competitive yet still building for a future ahead.

I will always remember that year for what was a season long battle with the Red Deer Rebels for the final playoff spot in the Central division. The Broncos never relinquished the spot but Red Deer knocked on the door all season long until the 2nd last weekend of the regular season.

Who can forget the trade deadline deal Chynoweth pulled that year? The Broncos sending over-age D Derek Price and young D Michael Hengen to Saskatoon for D Dane Crowley and enforcer F Brandon Tidball.

Crowley, a virtual throw-in for the deal turned out to be a top-end defenseman in the WHL while Tidball made every player on the Broncos roster a couple inches taller.

The season would end at the hands of a high-powered Medicine Hat team in the opening round of playoffs.

It was a season of growing and learning.


The Broncos wanted to start seeing some dividends of some lumps they had taken the previous two years. With 2nd overall bantam pick Geordie Wudrick playing in his rookie season and a lot of returning players, the Broncos knew they were getting closer as to where they wanted to be.

Offensive numbers struggled though. 18 year-old Levi Nelson led the team in scoring with 52 points. The team had some scoring depth but it there wasn't a player on the roster that would really strike fear in the opposition... at least not yet.

The Broncos made a move back in the east division that season. Approaching the trade deadline and not being a huge threat for a league championship, Chynoweth traded their leader on the back-end Dane Crowley and prospect F Jordan Mistlebacher for young 17 year-old defenseman Eric Doyle.

What looked like a steal for Everett never really turned out that way in the long run. The emergence of Doyle and his expected return as a 20 year-old defenseman this season has the Broncos out in front in that one. It was a good deal for both teams though and both team wouldn't regret.

After going 33-36-1-2 in the regular season and finishing 3rd in the east division, the Broncos would match-up with the Regina Pats in the opening round. It was a hard fought series but the Pats victory in six games would again end the Broncos season without at least a 2nd round playoff appearance.

It was the end of the line of the Kyle Moir era in goal with his graduation as a 20 year-old. D Myles Rumsey and F Jeremy Schenderling also played out the last of their WHL eligibility.

Seeds were planted again for the future but Bronco fans wanted some playoff success and they wanted it now.


After some contract talk both negative and positive, Chynoweth was given another two year plus an option deal to guide the Broncos in the off-season. The deal took some time to be finalized but in the end, the Board of Directors gave him the mandate to continue the process.

Rink renovations were being done which was a largely disruptive but necessary process. It would take until over Christmas before the renovations were put to use.

Assistant Coach Dave Hunchak took the top job in Moose Jaw. Tim Kehler was added as his replacement.

The year started with a bang. In what became a common theme under Chynoweth, the Broncos made a blockbuster deal in the first week of the regular season. Paul Postma and Kyle Bortis where on their way to Calgary for F Keegan Dansereau and D Brent Plouffe who was then one-touched to Tri-City for the speedy over-age F Erik Felde. Overnight, the Broncos became a big offensive threat and sported the best offensive depth in Conference.

This was also the year that core of 17-year olds from two seasons ago would be the leaders of the team and give the Broncos the supporting cast to be real contenders.

After a disappointing first half to the season there was still optimism the group could get it together. A trade deadline deal which sent G Ian Curtis to Prince George for D Jesse Dudas and the acquisition of D Bretton Stamler from Edmonton for a draft pick solidified the Broncos back-end.

The team also picked up an unknown 18 year-old goaltender named Mark Guggenberger from the Portland Winterhawks with the departure of back-up Ian Curtis.

Two weeks later, the team was humming right along. They rattled off a WHL best 10 straight wins down the stretch in a very competitive Eastern Conference from 1st to 8th.

The Broncos were making noise, turning heads and the fans were loving this dynamic, speedy and skilled team. The rink was rocking and the renovations were complete and looking great.

Hockey fever was back for the first time in years. The Broncos were the best team from the trade deadline on which allowed them a 41 win regular season.

The team headed into the playoffs that season wanting another shot at the Pats. On paper the match-up wasn't even close. The Pats, albeit east division champions, didn't have the speed or skill to keep up. They were big and they were tough,

Wins in game four, five and six thanks to a Travis Yonkman paddle save on Jordan Eberle during OT of game four gave the Broncos the win in six and 2nd round playoff appearance for the first time with Chynoweth at the helm.

Next up, the Eastern Conference #1 seed Calgary Hitmen. This was perhaps the best series in the five year Chynoweth run. Tied 1-1 after two games, a Ryan White triple-overtime goal turned out to be the series turning point. The Broncos extended the series to six games but it was the Hitmen advancing on in perhaps one of the fastest paced series in years.


The city had it's first taste of Broncos success in several years. The team was looking to build on it despite losing four of their top five scorers to graduation or pro contracts.

The team jumped out of the gates with the emergence of players like Matt Tassone, Justin Dowling and Cody Eakin up-front. Veteran Keegan Dansereau was expected to be the offensive leader and didn't disappoint with a team leading 81 points - the most points a player picked up in one season in the Chynoweth years.

Without pulling an early blockbuster deal, Chynoweth saved it up for a trading frenzy at the deadline. Eight players and several draft picks changed hands in four separate deadline deals. The biggest one was the Kootenay Ice blockbuster with the acquisition of Michael Stickland and John Negrin for James Martin, Christian Magnus and a draft pick.

A 4-2 B.C. road trip and strong play down the stretch allowed the Broncos a 42 win season and home-ice advantage with the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

A toss-up with the #5 seed Medicine Hat Tigers, the well-documented series from March saw The Tigers Tyler Ennis and several key Bronco injuries as the difference. A Medicine Hat game seven victory at the Credit Union i-plex would spell the end of another season.

Two weeks later, it was made public the Board of Directors had exercised the option year on Chynoweth's contract as GM/Head Coach but an extension wasn't granted.

On Friday, Chynoweth put in his resignation with the intentions of joining the New York Islanders as an Assistant Coach.

Over the five years the win totals increased in each season. 22,24,33,41, and 42. Regular season success had returned to the Broncos but playoff success still eluded the team.

Final regular season numbers: 162-163-12-17


That's enough for today.... we will start to move forward the rest of the week to see what the lies in store for the future.



speedycreekgal said...

Nice post Keener, I know a lot of thought went into it. Thanks.

Jon Keen said...

Thanks and good luck.

SJ said...

In five years, when Dean really hits the big time in the NHL, everyone (including the 'haters' and the Habby fan-atics) will be lining up to proudly proclaim that 'he was a Bronco coach first'. Trust.

I think he's done wonders for the game in this town and for the community in his time here and he will be missed. It is really too bad that small town politics and personal agendas garner such attention & detract from the facts. The Broncos are better off now than five years ago.

All the best to him and his family.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with SJ. Now there is the unknown of who the Broncos will bring in to coach and being under a time crunch you tend to make rash decisions.