The Brandon Wheat Kings will come back from their West Coast road trip with a new coach on the bus.
The Western Hockey League club has hired David Anning as an assistant coach for the remainder of the season. Anning, a 26-year-old Winnipegger, has been serving as assistant coach and assistant general manager with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons this season, and will play a significant role working with the Wheat Kings’ defence, freeing up fellow assistant Darren Ritchie to spend more time with the forwards.
"This will allow us to move Darren back, primarily, to working with our forwards where I think he has a lot to offer," Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "We’ve got a lot of young forwards and I think those players need to be pushed to continue to improve. And David, I think, will be able to come in and help with the defensive side. And, collectively, a three-man staff allows the coaches to have more time with the players."
Anning spent the previous two seasons as the head coach and GM of the Winnipeg Saints, guiding the team on a surprise run to the MJHL final this past spring, but lost his job when the club was sold to new owners and moved to Virden as the Oil Capitals. He is thrilled to get a chance to show what he can do in the WHL.
"It’s something that I’ve been pursuing, and this was an opportunity that was the right fit," said Anning, a former defenceman with the Saints. "Obviously, having spent a few years in the MJ here, it’s been a great experience for me and I enjoy coaching. It’s what I do."
Anning began his coaching career with the Saints before spending two years on the staff of the Dauphin Kings, helping the club win the MJHL championship and reach the final of the RBC Cup national Junior A championship as the host team in 2010. He will serve his second stint as an assistant coach with Team West for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge this season, and has been both a head coach and an assistant with the provincial U-16 program.
"He’s a real good young coach," McCrimmon said. "He’s got a lot of experience for a young guy and I think he’s well-regarded. He’s had a lot of experience with Hockey Canada, with the under-17 program on two occasions, with the under-16 last year, so I think he’ll do a good job for us."
The Wheat Kings (6-4-0-1) next see action on Saturday when they visit the Kelowna Rockets (8:30 p.m., CKLQ). Anning will join the team in Victoria the following day.
ONE-TIMERS: Wheat Kings D Ryan Pulock has been ranked seventh among all players for next year’s NHL Entry draft by scouting newsletter Red Line Report, while fellow Brandon D Eric Roy is ranked 85th, … Saskatoon has acquired D Graeme Craig from Swift Current in exchange for C Brent Benson in a swap of 19-year-olds … Regina has landed LW Colten Mayor, 19, and D Stephen Hak, 18, from Red Deer for a fourth-round pick and a conditional sixth-rounder in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft … Calgary has promoted assistant coach Brent Kisio to the position of associate coach.