The last thing Bob Tory thought he'd be doing this week was searching for a new coach.
But that is priority No. 1 for the Tri-City Americans general manager after coach Mike Williamson stepped down Monday.
"Mike has been doing this a very long time," Tory said. "We talked at the end of the season, and the plan was for him and Brian (Pellerin) to be back. In coaching, things change daily. There are long hours away from family. He wants to try something new and I respect that."
Williamson, who did not want to comment to the Herald, released a statement through the team.
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"My family and I would like to thank the Americans and wish them success in the future," Williamson said. "I would also like to thank the fantastic staff, the fans, the Tri-City community, and especially the players that I’ve had the privilege to work with."
He replaced Jim Hiller as the Americans coach in 2014 and was the 20th coach in franchise history.
Williamson was behind the Tri-City bench for 288 games, posting a 145-125-18 record. Williamson has 592 career wins between Portland, Calgary and Tri-City, putting him fifth all-time on the Western Hockey League coaches list.
"We have had three really good coaches in Don Nachbaur, Jim Hiller and Mike in my time," Tory said. "It's always sad when people leave, but I support him."
Tory said Pellerin would be considered for the position, which he hopes to fill by Aug. 1.
"Obviously, there will be a lot of interest in the job," Tory said. "I usually whittle it down to five candidates. We have to find who is best for our team."
The Americans also said they will host the Spokane Chiefs on Sept. 22 for their home opener. The regular-season schedule will be released Tuesday.