Don Nachbaur is third in WHL history with 691 career wins as a head coach behind Ken Hodge (742) and Don Hay (720).

The 58-year-old, who was born in Kitimat and raised in Prince George, won’t be adding to that total this season and perhaps ever.

After a 19-year WHL run, Nachbaur has joined the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach.

Nachbaur finally gets a chance to coach in the NHL after he and the Spokane Chiefs mutually parted ways at the end of March.

In other words, the Chiefs no longer required his services even though he had a year left on his contract.

“I ended up with no job, so I started looking for jobs, and I had contact with a few teams, but then the LA job came up and I interviewed for that. I’m really excited about the opportunity there. I’ve spent almost 20 years in junior hockey; I was in Seattle for six years, in Tri-Cities for six years, and then I was in Spokane for seven years. The life of a coach is not really six or seven years though, so I had good runs in all those places,” said the P.G. Sports Hall of Fame member who returned to the northern capital for a visit last week.

“It’s always nice to get home. I still got some family in Prince George, and I got a lot of friends that I went to school with and played hockey with that I reach out to.”

After the Kings missed the playoffs in April, they promoted John Stevens from associate to head coach.

Stevens kept Bill Ranford on as the goaltender coach, but added former Victoria Royals head coach Dave Lowry and Nachbaur to his staff.

“I’ll be working with the forwards,” said Nachbaur.

“I look at the group of forwards we have, and I think we have some guys that had ‘off years’ last year. Their play-making and scoring abilities had improved, but our team wasn’t impacted greatly, and I think secondary scoring within the group is there, but we’ve just got to refine it.”

The Kings have also hired former NHL all-star Pierre Turgeon as the team’s ‘offensive coordinator’ a term associated with football.

Nachbaur was an assistant under Stevens with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms from 2000 to 2002.

He has also been an assistant with the Canadian World Junior and Canadian Under-18 teams, but the vast majority of his coaching career has been as the head man, so one would assume he will have to make a big adjustment.

“I think it’s actually just coaching. We all have roles and it’s like any business. You got to stick within your role, so for me I’m working with good guys, I’ve got an excellent head coach that I’ve worked with in the past, so I know him well as a person. I respect what he does as a coach it and the way he communicates with players.”

Besides being in a support role, Nachbaur will be making the transition of coaching junior players to multi-millionaires.

In addition, his air miles card will be used much more extensively.

“The LA Kings are playing every second night and we spend a lot of time on the road, so that limits your time to teach on the ice. A lot of teaching will be done video or off the ice. I think that’s going to be the biggest adjustment; the pro-game is a lot different based on scheduling, and the players don’t have to refine themselves as much as the junior players.”

Nachbaur, a grinding tough guy forward, played in the NHL during the 1980s.

He notched 69 points (23G, 36A) and a whopping 465 penalty minutes in 223 regular-season games with the Hartford Whalers (who drafted him 60th overall in 1979), the Edmonton Oilers (only four games), and the Philadelphia Flyers.

The same work ethic that took him to the NHL is what he expects from his players.

Although he’s perceived as an old school demanding type of coach, Nachbaur is most proud of the relationships he has built with his players.

“I think it’s not only the kids that made it, whether it was Patrick Marleau or Carey Price or Tyler Johnson; those are three guys that I’ve coached in three different organizations that are having stellar NHL careers, but it’s the other kids that didn’t make it that still keep in contact with me who became accountants, lawyers, or RCMP officers. I have a whole host of former players that have been successful in life in building careers outside of hockey, but they attribute that to the hard work and discipline you go through playing junior hockey. I like to think I had a little hand in that.”

Will Nachbaur, who will turn 60 in January 2019, ever land one of the coveted jobs as an NHL head coach?

It’s a long-shot, but now that he’s in the league, his chances have arguably increased.



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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat.
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