If an afternoon media conference on Thursday was supposed to be the announcement, consider it spoiled.
Shortly before 11 a.m., John Vogl with Buffalo News confirmed on twitter that Saskatoon Blade’s coach and general manager Bob Woods is leaving to join Buffalo’s NHL team, the Sabres, as an assistant coach under Dan Bylsma.
Woods has spent the last two seasons as the head coach and general manager of the Blades.
“It made sense for me and my family,” he said. “I’m going to have the opportunity to grow as a coach and get more experience.”
Some fans are surprised with the move as Woods signed a 5 year deal with the Blades, but is already done after two seasons.
“My plan wasn’t to leave, but you’re always opened to any opportunity that comes,” he said. “These opportunities don’t come everyday and when they do you have to really look at them.”
Within five minutes of CKOM News reporting on the announcement, the Saskatoon Blades tweeted the team has named Dean Brockman as its 21st head coach, confirming Woods departure to Buffalo.
The team said new coach Brockman, 48, who was alongside Woods for the past two seasons, is thrilled with the opportunity.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be in this position,” he said. “It’s something I won’t be taking lightly, great things are ahead for the Blades.”
Prior to his Saskatoon gig, Brockman coached the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for 17 years.
He lead to the team to several championship victories, and was named SJHL Coach of the Year four times.
Additionally, Brockman coached Canada West to a silver medal at the World Junior A Championship in 2012, taking home a gold medal at that same event as an assistant coach one year earlier in 2011.
“The boys have had enough of losing,” he said. “They want to be successful, have a great year, and take those steps that are going to lead them to something special.”
The Saskatoon Blades have also named a new general manager, Colin Priestner. The 32-year-old is the seventh GM in Blade’s history, and will nab the title of youngest general manager in the Western Hockey League.
The team said Priestner was instrumental through the previous three drafts, the results of which have been widely praised by independent observers.
He also crafted the restructuring of the Blades scouting system, as well as rebuilding the 50-man list.
Priestner has a degree in Political Science from the University of Alberta and is currently enrolled at the Business of Hockey MBA program at Athabasca University.
Blade’s Assistant General Manager Steve Hildebrand is now promoted to Associate General Manager; Hildebrand was just named by Hockey Canada as one of the Directors of Operations for the U17 national team.
The team said staff will be rounded out in short order, and the new head coach has a few candidates in mind for his assistant.