So why a return as head coach to the Belarus men’s national hockey team for Glen Hanlon at this stage in his life? Money issues? Family problems? Dissension within management of the Vancouver Giants?
“Nothing like that … I just felt I needed more of a challenge,” Hanlon said Friday from his home in Point Roberts, Wash. “I’ve had the itch to be a head coach again and with Belarus hosting the world hockey championships in 2014, it seemed like a perfect fit. I was part of the Belarus presentation five years ago to land the tournament. Now I’ve got the opportunity to take it the next step by coaching and helping with their player development program.”
Hanlon, 56, expects the final papers will be signed Monday. “My wife (Keri) and son (Jackson) will stay in Point Roberts but there will be lots of opportunities for me to get home,” Hanlon says. “Belarus isn’t like an NHL job or the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) where you’re tied down almost year-round. It’s basically a tournament schedule that starts in November.”
After a goaltending career that spanned 15 years in the NHL, Hanlon stayed in the game as an assistant coach in Vancouver and Washington before being elevated to head coach with the Capitals from 2003-04 to 2007-08. Following his European experiences in the KHL, Slovakia and Belarus, he returned to Vancouver as an assistant with the Giants under Don Hay for the past two seasons. “Despite rumours to the contrary,” Hanlon says, “the Giants were a great landing pad for me and I enjoyed every minute with them.”
HERE ’N’ THERE: Brandon Astle, play-by-play announcer with the BCHL Langley Rivermen, became an overnight sensation on YouTube and CNN for his zany zero-time-on-the-clock goal call last season. A jump from Junior A ranks to the American Hockey League could be in the works for young Astle, who some say is being pursued by team president Ryan Walter as the Abbotsford Heat play-by-play broadcaster for the coming season.
SHORT HOPS: While the Canadians open their Northwest League home season on June 17 at Nat Bailey Stadium, there will be a game of some consequence staged at The Nat next Wednesday (June 12) in support of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation. C’s president Andy Dunn has put together a “Strike Out Heart Disease” celebrity softball game at 7 p.m. involving media rogues and roguettes such as Barry Macdonald, Scott Rintoul, Matt Sekeres, Bro Jake, Shane Foxman, Jason Pires, Dawn Chubai and Fiona Forbes among others. It’s all part of the awareness program whereby donations based on the number of strikeouts by Canadians pitchers during the 2013 season go to the Foundation. Last year the C’s threw 570 strikeouts, raising $14,250. Canadians chair Jake Kerr says he’ll match this year’s total up to $25,000
END ZONE: Dr Sport, the stunningly handsome two-year-old gelding, ran a courageous fourth last Sunday at Hastings Racecourse.
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