The Spokane Chiefs will have a press conference at the Arena this afternoon to introduce veteran Western Hockey League coach Don Nachbaur as their new coach, according to a source within the organization.
General manager Tim Speltz last week denied a report that an agreement with the former Seattle and Tri-City coach was imminent, but said Nachbaur would be an outstanding choice to replace Hardy Sauter.
Speltz would not confirm Tuesday evening that a deal had been struck.
However, everyone contacted said the connection is logical.
While Nachbaur was posting a 36-35-6-3 record with the Ottawa Senator’s AHL team in Binghamton, N.Y., last season his family stayed in Richland, with his daughter just graduating. He cited family reasons for his resignation last week.
Speltz also interviewed former Chiefs assistant Steve Pleau, who was the head coach of the expansion Edmonton Oil Kings for three seasons before being fired after the season.
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 the 1995 season through 2000. Then it was 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.
Sauter had replaced Pleau as an assistant for Bill Peters in 2007 and the Chiefs went on to win the Memorial Cup. That led to promotion when Peters was hired to coach the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL team.
The Chiefs went 46-23-0-3 and 45-22-3-2 in Sauter’s two seasons, both times placing fourth in the Western Division. This past season they fell in the first round of the playoffs to Portland, losing all four games of the best-of-seven series at home. The Winterhawks had eight players selected in the NHL Draft last week, the Chiefs had none.