June 30, 2010 in Sports

Chiefs to hire Nachbaur

Source says veteran coach will get 5-year deal
By The Spokesman-Review

Don Nachbaur has coached WHL teams in the Tri-Cities and Seattle.
(Full-size photo)

The Spokane Chiefs have scheduled a news conference at the Arena this afternoon to introduce veteran Western Hockey League coach Don Nachbaur as their new coach, according to sources.

General manager Tim Speltz would not confirm Tuesday evening that a deal had been struck.

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.

However, one source said Nachbaur, who coached in the American Hockey League last season, has a five-year contract, which would be the longest for a Chiefs coach.

The previous four coaches had three-year contracts, with the third year being a team option, which wasn’t picked up on Sauter.

While Nachbaur was posting a 36-35-6-3 record with the Ottawa Senators’ AHL team in Binghamton, N.Y., last season, his family stayed in Richland, Wash., 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 last 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.

Nachbaur 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 in six seasons.

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-7 series at home. The Winterhawks had eight players selected in the NHL Draft last week, while the Chiefs had none.

The press conference is at 1 p.m. in the Absolut Grille.

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