Rumours put Beaulieu in eye of the Storm

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:32 PM ET

The Guelph Storm is looking for a coach.

Could that new coach be behind the London Knights’ bench?

Knights’ assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu would be a perfect fit for the OHL club.

And while this is all speculation, there are already rumblings that Beaulieu is one of the men being considered to take over from former Knight Jason Brooks, who was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Storm on Monday.

Beaulieu has all the tools. He’s been a long-time assistant with the Knights and has coached them during their most successful years. He left four years ago to become coach and general manager of the Saint John Sea Dogs. He made them successful and even though he was fired in his third year, he built the foundation of the team that is now No. 1 in Canada.

He returned to the Knights as an assistant coach, and does a lot of the heavy slugging. Also, he’s proven he can handle all aspects of building a team.

His bona fides are legitimate.

Now with all that said, there is a lot of ground to cover before anyone goes anywhere.

The first order of business is finding out if the Storm are interested in Beaulieu?

If you make enough telephone calls and talk to enough people, there’s no doubt that Beaulieu is a “person of interest” in the good sense of the phrase.

He’s probably a lot more than that but no one can say very much about this because Beaulieu is under contract to the Knights until the end of the season.

The immediate thought is that since Beaulieu has put in so much time, done so much work — especially the ugly work of talking to the media — and has a good relationship with Knights coach Dale Hunter, if the Storm come calling, the Knights would not stand in Beaulieu’s way of either an interview or a job offer.

Storm GM Mike Kelly, an ex-Windsor Spitfires GM, would have to call the Knights for permission to talk to Beaulieu.

Now that shouldn’t present much of a problem either . . . or will it?

Could Beaulieu’s obstacle to moving on be his own team.

“I don’t know 100% yet what I would do (if I was asked about Beaulieu),” Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. “I would have no problem at the end of the year, but this is the middle of our season. It’s a tough position.”

Hunter wouldn’t comment on whether he had been approached by the Storm, but did say that if anyone approaches him about talking to one of his coaches, he wouldn’t hide the fact from his coaches.

Denying someone a chance at a better job is a hard line to take, especially for someone such as Beaulieu who has been a head coach and general manager elsewhere and has had such a long-term relationship with the Hunters.

But Hunter said there are a lot of other considerations for a coach going to someone in the same league.

“You have systems, you have game plans against other teams. They know what we do here,” Hunter said. “It puts us in a precarious position. Would you think a football team would let a football coach go midway through the season?”

Hunter said Beaulieu would make an attractive package.

“He’s a good coach. He has credibility and he’s coached before,” Hunter said.

Kelly is adamant that he won’t wait until after the season to find a coach. He believes Guelph is a franchise that is “not broken, but just needs a tune-up.”

Kelly says he’s “90% sure” he can have a coach in place before the Christmas break ends.

“It’s been 48 hours and I’ve had 30 applications already,” Kelly said. “After Saturday, I will sit and digest. But I can tell you that there are assistant coaches in the (Ontario Hockey League) who are fully qualified, but they are under contract.”

Kelly wouldn’t comment on whether he’d contacted the Knights about Beaulieu.

As for Beaulieu, he says he is under contract to the Knights.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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