Habscheid and Hunt staying put

Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt hoists the Ed Chynoweth Cup at the Art Hauser Centre last month.

In recent years, there have been changes in either the front office or behind the bench for teams that have won the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

That won’t be the case for the Prince Albert Raiders when they look to defend their Western Hockey League title next season.

The team announced on Monday morning that they had signed multi-year contract extensions with general manager Curtis Hunt and head coach Marc Habscheid.

“We see the players in their uniforms and they play at the such a high level, I think we sometimes lose track of just how young these players are,” Hunt said.

“You look at players like Parker Kelly and Brayden Pachal who have had the same coach around them since they came to Prince Albert. When you know the expectations and the people that are involved behind the scenes, there’s a certain level of comfort that allows them to focus on the thing they need to as players. I think that’s part and parcel as to why we’ve had success here.”

Further terms on the deals were not disclosed.

Hunt, who became the general manager prior to the 2015-16 campaign after Bruno Campese held the role for eight years, became the first Raiders general manager to be named the WHL’s executive of the year this past season.

Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid embraces general manager Curtis Hunt and blueliner Zack Hayes after the team’s Game 7 win over the Vancouver Giants.

Habscheid, who was unavailable for comment Monday, took over as head coach from Cory Clouston partway through the 2014-15 campaign and has complied a 168-135-25-11 mark with the Raiders.

In addition to becoming the eighth coach to win 500 games and stand behind the bench for 1,000 contests, Habscheid earned his second WHL Coach of the Year award in May.

He’ll also become the first bench boss since Derek Laxdal of the 2011-12 Edmonton Oil Kings to help his side defend their Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Travis Green, Laxdall, Dan Lambert, Kelly McCrimmon, Steve Konowalchuk and Manny Viveiros all moved on to pro opportunities in the AHL and the NHL after their championship winning seasons.

When it comes to the rest of the coaching staff, no announcement has been made yet on if assistant coaches Jeff Truitt and Dan Gendur will be back on the bench for the 2019-20 campaign, along with goaltending coach Mike Brodeur.

“You have to give guys an opportunity to pursue other leagues or chances to move up to roles where they have more responsibility,” Hunt said.

“With that said, it’s been a long year for everybody and we’re all taking time to decompress a little bit before things roll out as they do for the organization.”

Truitt, who has been mentioned as a possible contender for the Kamloops Blazers head coaching vacancy, joined the Raiders last season after six years as an associate coach with the Red Deer Rebels.

Gendur was the head coach for the Airdrie CFR Bisons midget program and was part of the Raiders in an internship role during the last weeks of the 2017-18 regular season and their first round series against the Moose Jaw Warriors before being hired last July.

Brodeur had previously worked as an assistant coach with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

As of Monday afternoon, the Blazers and the Prince George Cougars are the only teams with head coaching vacancies in the WHL.

The Brandon Wheat Kings are also looking to fill their general manager vacancy, as they did not extend Grant Armstrong’s contract.

The only other management change since the season ended came Friday as the Medicine Hat Tigers brought back Willie Desjardins as their head coach and general manager.

That move came a day after they parted ways with Shaun Clouston.