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This article was published 24/7/2019 (208 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Don MacGillivray will return as an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings, and the club has also added former team captain Mark Derlago for the upcoming Western Hockey League season.
MacGillivray, 54, spent the last three seasons working with former head coach David Anning, and will reprise the role under Dave Lowry, who was hired last week.
"I’m excited about the opportunity to continue on here with the Wheat Kings," MacGillivray said. "Over the last three years I’ve learned a lot in the role that I’ve had and had lots of opportunity. Now I have the opportunity to work with someone who’s has had a different kind of experience and someone who has coached at our level and been successful, and someone who’s coached at the NHL level and understands what it takes to get that level.
"You’re always learning as a coach, and when you stop learning you’re probably going backwards."
MacGillivray brings a wealth of experience with him in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, as a former university coach of the year in 2008 and also as a head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders.
General manager Darren Ritchie said he was thrilled MacGillivray is returning.
"It’s real important," Ritchie said. "He’s a well-respected guy who comes to work and loves being at the rink. Our guys really enjoy and have a lot of respect for Donny and if you look at how the season played itself out last year with our (defence), it was a real young group and Donny worked with those guys day in and day out and they just got better and better as the season went along."
Derlago, 33, played 237 regular season and playoff games with the Wheat Kings over three seasons — he lost an entire season to injury — piling up 169 points. After graduating from the Wheat Kings following the 2006-07 season, he spent 12 seasons in the North American minors and also in Europe and Asia. He retired from his playing career this summer.
"He’s a former captain of our team who just finished playing pro hockey for 12 years," Ritchie said. "Our players are going to be able to relate to him because he’s just out of the game, and he’s going to know how the game’s played and what the new players are like. He’s going to be real important for our guys to lean on and be an easy ear for them to talk to. He’ll have a good handle on our players as the season goes along."
Derlago, who spent the day on the ice at the team’s hockey school, said he is pleased with the new challenge.
"It’s exciting," Derlago said. "It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I think it’s a pretty good exit out of my playing career for me. It’s always great to come back to be a Wheat King."
He’ll be joined by a familiar face.
Tyler Plante, a friend and former teammate of Derlago, will also return for his fourth season as goaltending coach with the Wheat Kings.
"The best way to put it is that it’s been a passion job," said the 32-year-old Plante, who has worked at the team’s last 18 hockey schools. "It’s one of those things that you just get super excited about doing. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the Brandon Wheat Kings are what I’ve always considered my hockey family … It’s still second nature so I’m just excited to be going again."
In his time with the squad, he’s worked with Jordan Papirny, Logan Thompson, Dylan Myskiw, Travis Child and current netminders Jiri Patera and Ethan Kruger, plus top prospect Connor Ungar.
"He does a great job of working with our guys," Ritchie said. "It’s great to have him. He’s right in town, he’s at the majority of our practices, he has a great relationship with Ethan and Jiri so I think it’s real important because he’s built great relationships and our guys enjoy working with him."
All that’s left now for Ritchie is to find someone to fill his old job as director of scouting. He anticipates an announcement will be made reasonably soon.
But for now, he’s happy with the group he’s assembled behind the bench.
"I think it’s a real strong staff," Ritchie said. "We have great experience with Dave and Donny, and they’ll be two real good guys for Mark to learn from. I’m real excited for them to get together and start planning things. I think the group is excited."
Rookie camp opens for the club on Aug. 28.
» Twitter: @PerryBergson