August 28, 2018
By Earl Seitz, CFJC Today
KAMLOOPS — When it comes to coaching experience this coming season, no team in the Western Hockey League is going to have more of it than the Portland Winterhawks.
On August 20, three months after Don Hay became a victim of the Blazers ownership purge of their hockey operations department, Hay is joing the Blazers rival Portland Winterhawks.
Last season Hay surpassed former Portland head coach Ken Hodge as the winningest coach in Western Hockey League history, finishing last season with 750 wins.
When the Blazers decided to make changes in May, it was announced that Hay was retiring from coaching the team and would remain in an advisory role — the advisory role is over after three months. (See original story here).
In a meeting with the media the day after he was pushed out of coaching here, Hay made it clear that he is still a coach, his heart is in coaching, and he still wanted to coach.
“I might not get another opportunity,” said Hay on May 11, the day after he was removed as Blazers head coach. “Coaching is in my blood. It’s like one of you guys (media) taking a step back. You might think you’re ready to take a step back — things might change,” said Hay.
“You’ve had that passion for a lot of years, you might want to see where you’re going with it. When I was out of work at the NHL level I’d walk from the back door to the front door, hoping there might be a rink out there.”
That rink is in Portland, where Hay will join longtime friend and Winterhawks head coach Mike Johnstone as an assistant coach. It’s a friendship that dates back to the 1995 World Junior Hockey Championship when Canada won gold with Hay as the head coach and Johnstone his assistant.
The Portland Winterhawks will play in Kamloops twice this season, Wednesday, October 3 and Friday, October 5.
Portland will be Don Hays fourth Western Hockey League team — Kamloops (twice), Tri-Cities and Vancouver.