Dwayne Gylywoychuk says he knows exactly what he’s walking into.
With the prestige of being named the new head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings comes new responsibility and the type of pressure that he has never experienced before during his nine seasons serving as a WHL assistant coach.
He has also watched what happened to the last two coaches that Wheat Kings owner/GM Kelly McCrimmonhas hired, firing Cory Clouston this spring one year into a two-year contract and watching McCrimmon himself stepping in to replace Mike Kelly with six games remaining in the regular season back in 2004.
Still, Gylywoychuk had no hesitation in stepping into the line of fire and taking his shot as the club’s new bench boss.
“I had no second thoughts about it at all,” Gylywoychuk said. “It was something I talked with Kelly about long and hard and we spent a lot of time talking about different things and different aspects. And I sat down with my family and it was something that I discussed with them and talked with some other people that I trust that are close to me and I am ready for the challenge.
“I understand that now it’s going to be on my shoulders and that’s what I want it to be. I want to be able to lead this team and these players and I look forward to the challenge and giving them a chance to put a stamp on their team.”
Gylywoychuk takes over a team that even a casual observer would have to say is entering a rebuilding season, projected to lose seven of its top 10 scorers from last season, including the entire top line of Mark Stone (41 goals, 123 points), Michael Ferland (47 goals, 96 points) and Brenden Walker (26 goals, 81 points). While he is blessed with great depth on the blue-line and in goal with Corbin Boes returning, Gylywoychuk and assistant coach Darren Ritchie will have to find a way to squeeze offence out of a young lineup up front in order to make the playoffs.
Gylywoychuk was a dependable foot soldier during his five-year WHL career and has been a valuable member of the organization on the bench and behind the scenes, for the past decade. He has a firm grasp of the Wheat Kings’ tradition, history and the high expectations that come from within the organization and from its followers. And despite his close relationship with McCrimmon, make no mistake, Gylywoychuk will be expected to produce.
“The guy has to be able to coach, that’s the bottom line, that’s his responsibility,” McCrimmon said. “He’s now on the front line, he’s in the winning business, so that’s the bottom line.”