Anning takes over behind the bench

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A year after it was first discussed, David Anning is the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/08/2016 (2188 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A year after it was first discussed, David Anning is the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

In the summer of 2015, then head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon was considering an offer in the National Hockey League with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the two first discussed the possibility of a promotion for the assistant coach.

But the status quo prevailed until the last few weeks when McCrimmon chose to join the NHL’s expansion Las Vegas franchise.

Colin Corneau From left: David Anning, Don MacGillivray, Aaron Rome and Tyler Plante are taking on new roles in the Brandon Wheat Kings organization as it heads into its 50th year in the Western Hockey League. (Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun)

“I’m very excited,” Anning said of his new job. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to at some point. Obviously we’ve had a lot happen here in the last little while but I’m very excited. This is a franchise that I’m very proud to be associated with and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

Anning joined the Wheat Kings in October 2012 with a sparkling resumé after six seasons in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He was behind the bench with the Dauphin Kings and Steinbach Pistons before taking over as head coach and general manager of the Winnipeg Saints. As a player, he had 26 goals and 109 assists in four seasons with the Saints.

McCrimmon said it was an easy decision that wasn’t based on promoting from within.

“I thought that’s where the best candidate was,” McCrimmon said. “It wasn’t a personal mandate or anything like that. For me, there wasn’t a lot of suspense because I made my mind up a year ago that if I left that he would be the head coach then. Nothing in the last year would change that. It’s an opportunity that I think he is very well prepared for.”

When McCrimmon joined Team Canada’s coaching staff for the world junior championship last December, Anning took the reins, guiding a short-staffed team to a 7-3-1-0 record.

Anning said the opportunity was beneficial, both for him and the players.

“That four-week period was very good for myself,” he said. “It allowed me to get comfortable in the Western Hockey League as a head coach, as interim as it was. It allowed the players to see me in a different capacity, one that they weren’t used to seeing. I think it was a good experience for myself. I was comfortable doing it.”

Anning said it will also help that McCrimmon delegated a lot, allowing the two assistant coaches — Anning, and Darren Ritchie, who left the bench to take over as director of scouting on Thursday — to take a big role in practice planning, strategizing and other jobs with the team.

Anning has long been highly thought of in coaching circles, twice serving as an assistant coach on Team West staff at the IIHF World Under-17 Challenge, as an assistant coach with Team Manitoba at the Western Canadian U16 Challenge in 2009, and as head coach with Team Manitoba at the Western Canadian U16 Challenge in 2012.

Anning said that experience will help.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to coach with a lot of different guys,” Anning said. “I’ve had a lot of experiences along the way coaching junior-aged players so I think my experience is something that will allow me to have some success. Obviously working under Kelly and with Darren for the last four years, I’ve been able to learn a lot.

“I think I’ve developed a lot, I think I’ve been able to improve a lot and then looking forward, I really like the staff we’ve assembled.”

Along with longtime friend Don McGillivray, Anning added former NHLer Aaron Rome and former Wheat Kings goaltender Tyler Plante to the coaching staff.

While he said some things will change, he added he wants the team’s success and ability to produce good players and people to remain.

“This is a new coaching staff but I think that a lot of our philosophies will remain the same, which I think will help our returning players,” Anning said. “I think the way that our team played the last few years is similar how we want to play moving forward. I like the way that we approach the game, I like our tactics and how we like playing. That won’t change.

“It will be a different voice, a different message, I’ll have a different way of doing things, but obviously I’ve been through it with the guys.”

» pbergson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @PerryBergson

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