It's not dual or die

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Kelly Kisio tried on the hats and liked the fit of both.

The Calgary Hitmen boss, who moved behind the bench prior to the 2004-05 season, doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to head back upstairs now that his team has been eliminated from the WHL playoffs.

Kisio -- the club's GM for the past seven seasons -- said he'll meet with team president Ken King before deciding on his role for next year.

"I don't know yet," Kisio said yesterday.

"I have to sit down with Mr. King and talk about how this year went. I wouldn't mind coaching again but we'll see. I'll talk with Mr. King and see what he's thinking.

"We'll put our heads together and see what's the right thing to do."

The Hitmen were eliminated from playoffs Wednesday in Brandon, where the Wheat Kings posted a 3-1 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Calgary held a three-games-to-one lead in the series before dropping three straight.

The Hitmen coaching staff will hold one-on-one meetings with each player this morning before settling in to prepare for the May 5 bantam draft.

Kisio said he enjoyed his rookie season behind the bench.

"It was fun," he said.

"I really enjoyed being down in the dressing room, being with the guys on the ice and being more hands-on.

"When you're around the guys, you get to know them a lot better than just sitting up in the stands or the pressbox."

And that, he said, makes his job as a GM easier -- although it comes with a price.

"You don't get to go out and watch other teams as much," he said.

"So you have to trust your scouts a lot more.

"I always did before but now, you really have to trust them and I fully trust my guys.

"But you get to see the insides of guys and see how they are on the bench and how they communicate with other guys, whether they help other guys or not."

Under the guidance of Kisio and co-coach Dean Evason, the Hitmen posted a 34-23-9-6 record in 2004-05. The squad's 83 points was one better than the previous season.

The entire season was a learning process for Kisio, who credited Evason and assistant coach Blaine Forsythe for making the transition much easier.

"You learn something every day," Kisio said.

"I'm lucky Dean was there. He's done it for five or six years.

"Sometimes I'd be ready to go off in a different direction and he'd say, 'Hold on, here. Let's sit back and think this out.' "

Many questioned whether the unique 'co-coaching' situation would work but Kisio said the staff worked together admirably.

"I think it worked," he said.

"I entrusted Dean with a lot of stuff.

"He and Blaine did a lot of stuff for me while I was upstairs."

With the Hitmen venturing past the first round for the first time in four years, Kisio was unable to attend as many tournaments as he usually does.

So he's relying on head scout Brad Whelen to do another bang-up job at the draft table.

"We'll start preparing tomorrow," Kisio said.

"Most of the tournaments I would have been at, I haven't been able to get to this year.

"So the draft will be Brad Whelen's show.

"He's in Edson right now at the Alberta Cup."

Kisio said he had not scheduled a meeting with King and will be spending the day wishing his players well for the summer.

He and Evason replaced Richard Kromm and Bruno Campese, who were fired after the Hitmen were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last spring.


Videos

Photos