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Spokane Chiefs turn to Adam Maglio to replace departing coach Manny Viveiros

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 1, 2020

Former Spokane Chiefs associate head coach Adam Maglio was promoted to head coach of the WHL club on Tuesday.  (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
Former Spokane Chiefs associate head coach Adam Maglio was promoted to head coach of the WHL club on Tuesday. (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

This week, for the second time in his coaching career, Adam Maglio got a promotion.

Now he is the youngest head coach in the Western Hockey League.

The 34-year-old Maglio was officially named the Spokane Chiefs’ head coach Tuesday, one day after Manny Viveiros – the man who got the job instead of Maglio 14 months ago – left to become a head coach in the American Hockey League.

“Manny’s a very elite coach,” Maglio said. “He’s very well-respected, and I think the organization understood that Manny probably would move up at some point.”

Maglio served last season as the Chiefs’ associate head coach, when they finished 41-18-4-1 in a pandemic-shortened WHL season.

Maglio interviewed for the team’s head coaching position last summer before general manager Scott Carter ultimately offered the job to Viveiros, who won a WHL championship as Swift Current’s head coach in 2018.

“We really liked him,” Carter said of Maglio. “But at the end of the day, Manny (Viveiros) was available, and he just had so much experience that we went with Manny. We were very fortunate that Adam was willing to take on the assistant role and learn from Manny.

“It turned out to be the best-case scenario.”

Carter said Maglio drew his attention a few years ago, after he was promoted from assistant coach to head coach for the British Columbia Hockey League’s Prince George Spruce Kings in 2017. In Maglio’s two years with the Spruce Kings, they reached the league finals twice, winning the second time, in 2019.

The BCHL is a Junior A league, the second tier of hockey in Canada behind the three major junior leagues.

Maglio said he appreciated the opportunity to learn from the 54-year-old Viveiros, who is now the head coach of the Henderson Silver Knights, the new AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

“First of all, Manny’s an outstanding human. The way he treated people, the way he treats his staff, the players, certainly he’s the ultimately leader in that regard, and a guy you want to work for,” Maglio said. “I just hope I can take a little bit of that away and be that really strong leader for both our staff and players.”

Even though Carter, who was hired as general manager in 2016, looked outside the organization to hire the team’s previous coach, hiring Maglio as an assistant with an eye to eventually becoming head coach was an attractive model to him.

Carter pointed to the example of the Kelowna Rockets, who have won four WHL championships – each under a different head coach who was an assistant for the previous one – since the 2002-03 season.

“That was something I was hoping to do with Adam (Maglio),” Carter said. “Hopefully. it will work out.”

The last time the Chiefs promoted an assistant coach to full-time head coach was in 2008, when Bill Peters left after winning the Memorial Cup to become head coach for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in Illinois. Hardy Sauter was promoted after one season as Peters’ assistant.

Sauter lasted two seasons before Don Nachbaur replaced him. Nachbaur advanced to the conference finals in his first season, 2010-11, but never got that far again. Dan Lambert, who led Kelowna to its most recent title in 2015, replaced Nachbaur in 2017 and led Spokane back to the conference finals a year later.

Lambert then left to become an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators, creating the vacancy that Viveiros filled in 2019.

Maglio, the franchise’s 14th head coach, affirmed that he hopes this position is a step toward somewhere else eventually, but he said that is the nature of major junior leagues, such as the WHL.

“The Western League is a very respected league,” Maglio said. “We get to work with some of the best young players in the world. Anytime you get that opportunity, it is a stepping stone to where I wanna go, and where our players wanna go, too. We’re all in the same boat: We wanna develop, we wanna advance, and I can’t think of a better stepping stone than this job.”

Maglio and Carter said they will begin the process of finding a new assistant coach.

The WHL is tentatively planning to begin its season on Dec. 4, with players returning for training camp a couple of weeks before that. A season schedule has not been released.

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