The Spokane Chiefs hired a proven winner to be their next head coach.
Manny Viveiros, who won a Western Hockey League championship two seasons ago with the Swift Current Broncos, was named Tuesday as the Chiefs head coach, the 13th in franchise history.
Viveiros will be formally introduced at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Spokane Arena.
The 53-year-old replaces Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons in Spokane to be an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League.
Viveiros spent last season as an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers, overlapping with former Chiefs player Kailer Yamamoto for 17 games.
But Viveiros, a native of the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert, was fired at the end of May, three days after the Oilers hired a new head coach, Dave Tippett.
In two seasons (2016-18) as Swift Current’s head coach and director of player personnel, Viveiros’ teams went 87-40-17 in the regular season. The Chiefs, under Lambert the past two seasons (2017-19), went 81-46-13.
The parallels don’t end there.
Lambert’s Chiefs had the WHL’s best regular-season power play (29.4 percent) and, last month, made the jump to a team that had the NHL’s worst power-play unit: the Predators scored on just 12.9 percent of their power plays in 2018-19.
Similarly, under Viveiros the Broncos led the WHL in power-play scoring percentage (29.1) in 2017-18, a year in which the Edmonton Oilers finished last in the NHL in the same category (14.8 percent).
With Viveiros on staff, the Oilers improved to 21.2 percent on the power play last season, ninth-best in the league.
Yamamoto said he worked with Viveiros frequently during their short time together in Edmonton, be it before practice or after games.
“He was really awesome. After every game I would go to him for video clips, and he would tell me what I was doing right and wrong,” Yamamoto said. “Every time at the rink he was super nice … always positive, which was the best thing.”
In all, Viveiros has 12 years of coaching experience, including nine seasons in Austria and Germany. He was named the WHL’s Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season, helping Swift Current win its first league championship since 1993.
Chiefs defenseman Noah King played on that championship team two seasons ago, recording five assists in 65 games.
As a player, Viveiros spent four seasons, from 1982 to 1986, with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders and was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Year his final junior season. A defenseman, he scored 321 points – 60 goals and 261 assists – in 251 regular-season games. He also had 42 points in 35 playoff games.
Subsequently, he spent parts of three seasons with the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL, playing a total of 29 games. He then had stints in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League before moving to Europe, where he played from 1991 to 2007. Most of that time was spent in Austria.
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