After several days of waiting, the Edmonton Oil Kings finally made it official on Friday as they confirmed that minor pro coach Derek Laxdal is stepping behind the bench at Rexall Place.
Dean Millard reported back on Monday morning that Laxdal was the man for the job and that he was in the process of filling out his staff. There was no mention of any assistant coaches on Friday though. Here is the official release from the Oil Kings.
Laxdal is a former Brandon Wheat King and therefore gets the full endorsement of my co-host. On top of his WHL playing career, Laxdal's record as a coach at the minor pro level is impressive to say the least. From the Oil Kings release:
In 2002 Laxdal began his coaching career with the Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League, taking them to a 87-58-5 record. In 2005 he made the jump to the ECHL, taking the reigns as head coach and director of hockey operations of the Steelheads. In his first ECHL campaign, he guided the Steelheads to an impressive 43-21-8 record and set a new club record for wins in the process. In the five seasons with the Steelheads Laxdal compiled a record of 217-108-35, including a Kelly Cup championship in 2007.The 44-year-old Manitoba native appeared in 67 NHL games split between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders. He has 8 years experience as a head coach and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to teaching 16-20-year-old players as opposed to grown men.