After Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Giants, Richard Matvichuk showed up as usual to answer questions from Fraser Rodgers and I on the 94.3 the Goat post-game radio show from the Kin 1 Atrium.

Little did Matvichuk know that this appearance would be his last in his role as Head Coach of the Prince George Cougars.

Minutes after the interview, Matvichuk was pulled into General Manager’s Mark Lamb’s office where he was presented with the pink slip, one day after his 46th birthday.

Without the benefit of a contract extension, Matvichuk understood his job was in jeopardy (that’s what losing does), but was hopeful that he would be allowed to finish out his three-year deal that was set to expire after this 2018-19 WHL season.

It was reasonable to assume that Matvichuk would be let go the day after the Cougars season-ending awards banquet, just like his former boss Todd Harkins was last year.

Harkins, who hired Matvichuk, was allowed to complete his four-year contract as General Manager before getting informed his services would no longer be required.

The Cougars have just 16 games left and are likely to miss the playoffs again.

They trail Seattle by eight points for the final wild-card spot.

It is perhaps ironic that the Cats competed hard against the first-place Giants in Matvichuk’s last game.

Down 3-0, the Cougars could have easily packed it in during the second period, but instead rallied with two late power play goals in the middle frame and another goal in the third to force the 3-on-3 overtime.

Lamb admits he pulled the plug at this time in part because of the current 11-game losing streak.

“Something needed to change. You play this game to win. When you go through a stretch like this one it really affects everybody and I didn’t just see it on the players. I see it in the office staff when I come in during the morning and I feel it myself. When you are an organization, you win and lose as an organization. This was starting to wear on a lot of people,” said Lamb to mypgnow.com.

When I spoke to Lamb on the Cat Scan podcast January 10th (trade deadline day), the topic of Matvichuk’s future came up.

Lamb gave no assurance at that time that Matvichuk was safe, even to complete the season.

(Hear for yourself. The Matvichuk discussion comes up at the 37:20 mark of the interview).

The 16-30-4-2 Cougars have the worst record in the Western Conference for the second straight year, they have scored the fewest goals per game in the WHL, and they have the league’s second-worst power play.

This doesn’t all fall on the Head Coach, but as the go-to guy, he absorbs much of the responsibility in a results oriented business.

The fact the doubleheader against the Giants this week at CN Centre drew the two smallest crowds of the season did not help the situation.

There were less than 2,100 fans at each of those games.

In other words, the losing has taken its toll on the paying customers.

According to HockeyDB, the Cougars are averaging just 2,609 in 2018-19, about 400 less than the previous year and more than 1,000 less than in 16-17.

Fair or not, Matvichuk is the latest in the revolving door of WHL head coaches to be sacked.

Since the end of the 2017-18 season, eight teams changed their bench boss, including Vancouver, Kamloops and Kelowna in the B.C. division.

Perhaps one could suggest in Prince George that Matvichuk was a sacrificial Lamb.

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This is Week 19 of ‘Hartley’s Cat Scan.’

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

My guest this week is former PG Cougar Evan Fuller.

Evan recalls his glory years with the Cougars, highlighted by the 2007 playoff run. He also talks about a bull riding career and his love for singing country music.

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


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Nike’s latest basketball shoe comes with a smartphone app that laces them up. Suggested marketing slogan: We’re behind you win, lose or tie.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

A Miami columnist says the NFL Dolphins will be tanking next year. The only question being how will anyone be able to tell?

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

Frank Robinson has passed away at 83. I hear he’s already chewed out a couple of angels for talking to ‘the other side.’

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Jack McKeon, 88, has been hired as a senior adviser for the Washington Nationals. Good for McKeon. But at 88, isn’t “senior advisor” redundant?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The top three men’s curling movies:
3. Lord of the Rings;
2. Rocky;
1. The Iceman curleth.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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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 myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his weekly podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.