Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz denied reports that former Tri-City Americans coach Don Nachbaur is the new coach of Spokane’s Western Hockey League team.
The Kamloops Daily News, citing two sources, said Nachbaur is all but signed to replace Hardy Sauter.
“It could be right, but it’s not now,” Speltz said Wednesday morning. “We do not have a deal done with Don Nachbaur.
“I talked to Don yesterday. By all means, he’s a candidate, for sure. He’s in Vegas, we talked, we’re going to talk. He’s a valid candidate, a very accomplished coach.”
Nachbaur is in Las Vegas for a hockey camp with his son. Speltz leaves today for the National Hockey League draft, returning Saturday night, with his focus shifting to the important draft.
“There will be nothing done this week for sure,” said Speltz, who has had former Spokane assistant and recently fired Edmonton head coach Steve Pleau in for an interview.
Nachbaur, who was coach of Tri-City before going to the American Hockey League last year, officially resigned his position with Binghamton, an affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, on Tuesday.
“It is a difficult day for me as I step down as the head coach of the Binghamton Senators,” Nachbaur said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision for me, but it is based on personal reasons and I think it is the right choice for both myself and my family.”
While Binghamton went 36-35-6-3, missing the AHL playoffs, Nachbaur’s family stayed in Richland.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs went 45-22-3-2 for fourth place in the Western Division, just two points out of first. Spokane was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, losing all four games at home, and the Chiefs declined to pick up the third year of Sauter’s contract.
Nachbaur spent five years with the Americans, winning the U.S. Division his last two years.
“It’s safe to say I’m not done with the process now, but I consider him a strong candidate,” Speltz said. “It’s not like I have to do a lot of checking, I know him pretty well.
“I’m going to say I think Don is still interested in coaching junior from my talk yesterday. He didn’t say he was interested in Spokane, but I think he is. He said he just needed a little bit of time to regroup.”
Nachbaur, 51, played two seasons with the Billings Bighorns in the WHL, scoring 146 points in 137 games, before being drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the third round of the 1979 NHL draft. He played parts of eight seasons in the NHL, the last in Philadelphia in 1989-90, scoring 23 goals and 69 points in 223 games.
He played four seasons in Austria before turning to coaching. He was the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds from 1995 through 2000. After two seasons as an assistant with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, he returned to the WHL with Tri-City in 2003, going 186-136-18-20.