Jim Hiller had success coaching with former college teammate Scott Beattie.
Now, Hiller, the Tri-City Americans’ head coach, will get an opportunity to see what kind of magic he and former Chilliwack Bruins assistant coach Dan Price can make.
Price, 37, was hired Wednesday to replace Beattie, who took a coaching job in Switzerland in May.
“Jim and I worked together in Chilliwack, and that was my first full-time job,” Price said. “When Jim left for Tri-City, I went to the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League). When Scott left this summer for Europe, I wanted to work with Jim again. He spoke so highly of Tri-City. Knowing Jim, I have kept tabs on Tri-City. I have been impressed with the evolution of the team. I love what I see. I can’t wait to become a part of it.”
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The fact that Hiller and Price had a history made the decision to hire him that much easier.
“I think familiarity is a big part of the process, and being able to work with someone is a huge ingredient,” Americans general manager Bob Tory said. “He is very educated, hard-working and will fit in fine. He has been a head coach at a lower level and has worked in the league as a scout and a coach. The fact he has worked with Jim before is huge.”
Hiller and Price worked together in Chilliwack for three years. Hiller was released from his duties after the 2008-09 season and a short time later was hired to coach the Americans.
“There were so many great candidates, but people like to work with people they have a comfort level with and know that they can work comfortably with them,” Hiller said. “I didn’t know him from Adam when we started at Chilliwack, but I was impressed from the moment I met him. When we were together in Chilliwack, he was committed. We want our players to be committed. He walked away from a great (law) career because hockey is his passion. You want those kind of guys around.”
Price, a former goaltender for the University of Regina (1995-98), graduated from the School of Law at the University of Saskatchewan in 2001 and practiced law for a few years, but hockey kept calling, and he put his law career on the back burner.
“When I went to work at Chilliwack, I had already left my law firm,” Price said. “What work I do now is pro bono. I enjoyed being a lawyer. I liked the competitive aspect.”
Price was a scout for the Regina Pats from 2003-06, then joined Hiller and the Chilliwack staff.
After three years with the Bruins, Price did double duty for two years as GM and head coach of the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL.
Though Price was a goalie, Lyle Mast will continue to work with the Americans’ goaltenders.
“I know there is a strong goalie coach in Tri-City, and I’m excited to get to know Eric (Comrie),” Price said. “But I will primarily work with the defensemen and the penalty kill. Goalies and defensemen work closely together. There are some really good defensemen coming back. I’m impressed with what I see.”
Price will arrive Aug. 1 in the Tri-Cities to get a feel for the area before rookie camp starts.
“The only time I spent in Kennewick was when I was with Chilliwack,” Price said. “I’ve been doing a little research, and it looks like a great town. I’m a single guy, and that’s one of the reasons I can move around a bit and pursue the coaching career. I lead a bit of a transient lifestyle.”
Also Wednesday, Tory announced that Tri-City assistant coach Brent Bilodeau resigned after two years with the team. Bilodeau, 39, who worked with the Americans’ defensemen, recently took a job as coaching adviser for the Tri-Cities Amateur Hockey Association.
When the Tri-City players report to camp this fall, things will be different, but Hiller said the key components would remain the same.
“We have such a great foundation and leadership,” Hiller said. “That’s what is most important.”
w Annie Fowler: 582-1574; email@example.com