Don Nachbaur (left) as an assistant head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL | LA Kings PR/Twitter

There were no NHL in-season coaching changes during the 2017-18 season.

Just five weeks into the 2018-19 season, there have been two, one of which impacted Prince George Sports Hall of Famer Don Nachbaur.

The Los Angeles Kings dismissed head coach John Stevens and replaced him with Willie Desjardins.

The 59-year-old Nachbaur also lost his job as an assistant coach under Stevens.

Last year, I wrote a column on Nachbaur finally landing an NHL job and the excitement that came with it to work for a good friend in Stevens and the Kings organization.

When a team has high expectations (don’t they all?) and doesn’t win as often as management, ownership, and fans feel they should, then changes will be made.

Coaches are often the first to be looked at and whether fair or not, they fully understand that comes with the territory.

Nachbaur was hired to mentor the forwards.

It did not help his situation that the Kings scored a total of just three goals in the 2018 playoffs, as they were swept in four games by the upstart Vegas Golden Knights.

The decision to depart from Stevens and Nachbaur was announced after LA started with an NHL worst 4-8-1 record.

In addition, the Kings were averaging a paltry 2.15 goals-per-game, again at the bottom of the league.

Nachbaur was hugely successful in the major junior ranks where he coached for 19 seasons.

He is third in WHL history with 691 career wins as a head coach behind Ken Hodge (742) and Don Hay (750).

Yes, Nachbaur has been relieved of his duties before, but not nearly this quickly into a job.

As an example, he was the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs for seven years (his previous employer) before being told his services were no longer required.

Going from a head coach dealing with teenagers is a completely different job description than being an assistant, and not having full control with men who play the game at the highest level.

At age 59, and with the news still stinging, Nachbaur will take his time and weigh options about what he wants to do going forward.

Two days after Stevens and Nachbaur were shown the door, the Chicago Blackhawks raised eyebrows when they fired head coach Joel Quenneville and replaced him with a much younger Jeremy Colliton, an ex-captain of the Prince Albert Raiders.

Quenneville has three Stanley Cup rings from his 11-year stint as a coach for the Hawks.

I doubt it is much consolation to Nachbaur that even a coach with multi-championships wasn’t safe.

Being an NHL coach appears to be what the public can perceive as the good life, that is high profile with great pay and plenty of glitz and, glamour.

However, that’s only if your team wins.

When losses start, job security is non-existent and the sleepless nights mount.

Those in the profession realize the risks, but on the day you are told your services are no longer needed, it still hurts.

I’m not sure if Nachbaur will get back to the WHL, but even in that league, some good coaches don’t last long once a slump hits.

The Kelowna Rockets let Jason Smith go after a 4-10 start this season, despite an overall record of 92-54-10-2 and one Western Conference Final appearance in just over two years in the position.

Coaching professionally always has been and always will be a rat race.

It is not about fairness or for the faint of heart, although coaches are often recycled and given another chance.

After four years with the Vancouver Canucks, Desjardins is now embracing his opportunity with the Kings, who are 1-1 since he took over.

In his case, he has an “interim” tag for the rest of the season but realistically the vast majority of coaches are only in the position on a temporary basis?


This is Week Seven of ‘Hartley’s Cat Scan.

The podcast, introduced in September, predominately features the Prince George Cougars.

My guests this week are Cougars defencemen Joel Lakusta and Ryan Schoettler.

Both are seventh round Bantam picks from Alberta.

They discuss a variety of topics on and off the ice.

You can also find this podcast on iTunes, Google, Stitcher, and Spotify.



Recreational marijuana is now legal nationwide in Canada. Or as more than a few pro athletes now put it: The grass is always greener on the other side … of the border.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times


Evander Holyfield’s son, Elijah, ran for over 100 yards for Georgia against Kentucky. You could say that Elijah has been earmarked for success.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California


Cavaliers forward J.R. Smith says he wants out of Cleveland; to which 400,000 other residents are saying “Hey, us too!”

*American comedy writer Jim Barach


New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said Tim Tebow has earned the right to start the 2019 season for a Triple-A team. Does that mean Tebow will be starting for the Mets?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California


The Air Force Academy’s falcon mascot – Aurora — injured one of her wings after being stolen by West Point cadets and forced her into a small cage.  I guess the Air Force QB won’t be calling on Aurora to run … a fly pattern.

*Contributor Marc Ragovin of New York



New York Giants back-up QB Kyle Lauletta was charged with motoring offences on consecutive days. These include recklessness, making illegal turns and outdoing Eli Manning for bad drives.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie



Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on
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Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his weekly podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.