By Carter Brooks
Photo by Andy Devlin
The Brandon Wheat Kings are currently without a Head Coach and General Manager.
Late last week, Wheat Kings's Owner and Governor Kelly McCrimmon announced that former Head Coach David Anning would not have his contract renewed by the team for the upcoming 2019-20 Western Hockey League season. This announcement came just one month after McCrimmon and Co. made it known that General Manager Grant Armstrong had also been relieved of his duties.
“We would like to thank David for his seven years with our organization.” said McCrimmon in a media release. “He was an important part of our championship team and aided in the development of many of our players. We wish him the best in his next coaching opportunity.“
After six years of experience coaching both the former Winnipeg Saints and the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Anning joined Brandon as an assistant coach for the 2013-14 season. After three seasons he was named McCrimmon’s successor, where he led the Wheat Kings to a 102-87-23 record in three seasons. The 33-year-old was unable to get the club past the second round of the WHL playoffs, and failed to make the postseason in 2018-19.
2018-19 did not go according to plan for the then third-year Head Coach. Despite a valiant second-half effort and a handful of winning streaks, Brandon ended its 68-game season with a record of 31-29-8, just two points back of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs for the first time in six years
"I was incredibly fortunate t have worked in my home province with a great organization in the premier junior hockey league in the world," Anning wrote in a public statement posted online. "It was a privilege to work alongside great people for the coaching staff, management, training staff, office staff, sorting staff, media, as well as the countless volunteers who make everything possible... I loved coming to the rink every day and having the opportunity to work with such talented athletes and good guys."
Following a successful hunt for a new General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon and the Wheat Kings will begin their search for a new Head Coach for the coming season. Training camp will open in late August, while the 2019-20 preseason officially gets underway on Friday, September 6th at Westman Place, in a showdown with new provincial rival Winnipeg ICE.