Western Hockey League brass and general managers will hunker down in Kelowna, British Columbia, today to hammer out the Western Conference schedule for the upcoming season.
"It's the last bit of paperwork we have to do," said Rick Doerksen, the WHL's vice president of hockey. "We'll get the scheduling done and we'll speed along with training camp preparations."
The participating members had an informal meeting Tuesday night, and Doerksen said the scheduling will begin today at 8 a.m.
The Americans already have their home opener in place - Sept. 19 against the Kelowna Rockets. They also have a dates set in the Eastern and Central divisions, but a few of those dates will likely have to be adjusted because of scheduling conflicts.
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"It would be better to have this earlier because you lose dates," said Tri-City Americans GM Bob Tory. "We lost some dates already this week. If we could go earlier like the East (late June), it would make it better for the business side with getting schedules made and promotion dates. This leaves very little time and it's stressful for our staff."
While scheduling is a big part of the offseason, Tory has a more pressing issue - hiring a new coach.
Tri-City is the only one of the WHL's 22 teams without a coach after Don Nachbaur, who spent six seasons on the Americans' bench, resigned July 16 to become the head coach of the Binghamton Senators, the AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators.
Tory has conducted five interviews, but has been tight-lipped as to who has walked through his office door.
Eight teams have changed coaches for one reason or another since the end of last season. Of the coaches who were let go - Jim Hiller (Chilliwack), John Becanic (Everett) and Michael Dyck (Lethbridge) - are still without jobs and could be considered viable candidates because of their experience. Americans assistant coach Terry Virtue also should be in the running.
"It's good in a way to get away," Tory said. "It gives me time to analyze the candidates and really take a good look at who's there and if I want to reinterview the top couple of candidates. We may have a decision by Friday, but I think Aug. 10 to 17 would be a better time frame. I'm going to take my time with this."