Coaches in OHL Western Conference final have plenty in common

It was almost two decades ago, when he was getting his feet wet behind the bench, that Ryan McGill noticed one of his players had a similar mind for coaching.

McGill was newly in charge of the WHL’s Edmonton Ice midway through the 1997-98 season when a lanky winger named Kris Knoblauch exhibited some key traits that wound up being good to use.

“He was a very good team player in the dressing room,” McGill said. “Very methodical in his approach to the game. He had a patient approach to the game as a player. That shows through his coaching.”

McGill’s Owen Sound Attack and Knoblauch’s Erie Otters face off in the OHL’s Western Conference final, beginning Friday.

While there are plenty of notable players in the series – likely the CHL’s best line in Dylan Strome, Taylor Raddysh and three-time 50-goal man Alex DeBrincat as Exhibit A, B and C – the parallels of two of the men wearing suits adds some intrigue.

McGill, 48, and Knoblauch, 38, are two of the top coaches in the CHL. And their career paths have been eerily alike.

After Knoblauch graduated from major junior and moved on to the Canadian university system, McGill and the Kootenay Ice won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions in 2000 and 2002.

Knoblauch’s first head coaching job was with the Ice and he, too, guided the club to a league title in 2011. (McGill actually replaced Knoblauch in 2012 for his second tour of duty with the franchise. Knoblauch was fired after he reportedly fielding interest in a job with his alma mater, the University of Alberta Golden Bears.)

Both have been assistant coaches for Team Canada at the world junior championship, McGill in 2014 and Knoblauch in 2017. He’s on Dominique Ducharme’s staff again for the 2018 tourney.

Now, of course, the …read more


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