Ex-Knight may soon lead rival Guelph

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

A former London Knight is the front-runner to coach one of the team's biggest OHL rivals.

Listowel's Jason Brooks, who has spent the last seven years with the Guelph Storm, is the leading candidate to become the club's next general manager and head coach after Dave Barr left Wednesday to accept a job as an assistant with the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

Under Barr, Brooks, 32, served as associate coach and assistant GM for Guelph, who knocked out the Knights in five playoff games this year before falling to the Soo Greyhounds in the second round.

He was coached the Ontario team that went undefeated and shut out the United States in the gold medal game at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in London this year.

"I'm hopeful. I would love the opportunity to do it and it would be an honour to coach this team," Brooks said yesterday from the Sleeman Centre.

"This is a first-class ownership group and an incredible place to work. Since I've been here, I've gone from Jeff Jackson to Shawn Camp and GM Alan Millar and then Dave Barr the last five years.

"Dave was a great teacher for not just the players but for me in advancing my coaching career.

"I appreciate what he taught me and, of course, I wish him the best in Denver."

Brooks, who is signed until 2010, has a meeting with the Guelph ownership group next week.

Training camp starts in just over a month and the Storm face one of the biggest question marks in the league: Will Londoner Drew Doughty, the second overall pick in last month's NHL draft, be back?

"We're approaching it that Drew is going to L.A. and he's going to play for the Kings next year," Brooks said. "You don't have any other choice -- you look at what happened with guys like (Sam) Gagner going in and making it right away. I'm not saying this because we have any inside information but you have to expect that Drew will be gone and go from there.

"We're very proud of him and if the Kings return him, then that's an incredible bonus for the team."

The Storm will be the fourth team in the OHL's Midwest Division to make a coaching change in the past year. The only one that hasn't is the London Knights, which have been led by Dale Hunter since 2001.

Brooks played parts of two seasons in London -- his last being the famously unsuccessful 1995-96 campaign when the Knights went 3-60-3. Since the Hunters rejuvenated the on-ice product, Brooks and the Storm -- known for a defensive-minded approach -- have defeated London in two of three playoff series.

"We're proud of the style we've played here and we've had a few seasons where we've challenged for championships," he said.

DEBOER GENS CO-OWNER: It didn't take former Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer long to get back in the OHL.

The rookie Florida Panthers head coach, who left the Rangers after the Memorial Cup finals, is now part of a new Oshawa Generals ownership group. Windsor businessman Rocco Tullio, co-owner last season, bought out former partner John Davies and brought DeBoer and ex-NHLer (and DeBoer teammate with the Windsor Spitfires) Adam Graves into the mix.

"I am excited and honoured to be joining a cornerstone franchise of the CHL," DeBoer said in a statement.


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