After one season as an assistant coach in the B.C. Hockey League, Brad Cook is returning to coach the Saanich Braves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Cook was let go by the Victoria Grizzlies earlier this month as that club restructures its coaching staff.
“Len Barrie is talking to a couple of key candidates for the head coaching job. It meant too many assistants and it’s unfortunate we had to let Cook go. He’s a hell of a communicator, a great coach and motivator,” Grizzlies co-owner Reza Binab said.
Barrie, the majority owner of the Grizzlies, returned to coach the team alongside Vic Gervais with only a handful of games left in the season. The Grizzlies lost in seven games in the second round of playoffs against the Powell River Kings.
Gervais was given full control of the team as head coach and general manager for the past two seasons. He pulled off a flurry of trades over the course of the 2010-11 season. The moves seemed successful, as Gervais brought in an ‘A list’ of BCHL talent. Players such as David Morley, Kyle St. Denis, Dustin Johnson and Graeme Strukoff, were key contributors down the stretch and in the playoffs.
And Gervais continues to recruit players as the acting GM.
“The situation is just as Barrie left it at the end of the season,” Gervais said.
With the more experienced Cook available, the junior-B Braves offered the position to him, forcing Robin Gomez to step down after one year as head coach.
Both Gomez and Cook are former ECHL players who played for the Salmon Kings.
Dropping down to a lower league is a setback for Cook’s coaching career, but the well-travelled former pro is happy to return to the Braves, where he had success during his first stint with the club two years ago.
“It’s a not the way forward I would’ve like but you knowI fit well with the Braves, I know and like the owners and with my family and the Spectrum hockey school ,this is a good thing right now,” Cook said.
“Leaving the Braves in the first place, I thought maybe the timing was a bit premature.”
Cook initially took over the Braves in 2009 from Dick Crowder and the team won 28 games before nearly upsetting the Victoria Cougars in the first round of the playoffs.
“We are very pleased to have Brad back with the team. Not only is he good for the organization, he is good for the whole league,” Braves owner Norm Kelly said.
The Braves hold a prospect camp at Pearkes arena from July 8 to 10.