SUN Hockey Pool

McGill lands Omaha job

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

The Calgary Flames will name Ryan McGill the first head coach of their AHL affiliate in Omaha, according to sources.

McGill's hiring will be unveiled today, when the club also announces its group of assistant coaches from the 2004 playoff run -- Rich Preston, Jim Playfair, Rob Cookson and David Marcoux -- will return to the fold under GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

McGill, known in these parts for guiding the Kootenay Ice to a pair of WHL titles as well as the 2002 Memorial Cup, spent the last three seasons coaching the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack -- top farm team for the New York Rangers.

Omaha president and Calgary assistant general manager Doug Soetaert refused comment when reached last night.

McGill didn't return messages left at his home.

This past season, McGill led the Wolf Pack to a franchise-best 50 wins, including 30 victories at home, and 106 points. During his three seasons in Hartford, the club compiled a record of 127-73-27-13.

His team claimed the 2003-04 regular season Eastern Conference title and tied for first place overall.

However, his contract was not renewed last month.

Selected by Chicago in the second round of the 1987 NHL draft, 29th overall, McGill played 151 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers, collecting four goals, 15 assists and 351 penalty minutes.

He was part of the 1989-90 Turner Cup-winning Indianapolis Ice, which Sutter was head coach and Playfair served as captain.

His playing career ended due to an eye injury.

HOTCHKISS BACK ON BOARD: As reported in yesterday's Sun, the NHL announced Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss was unanimously re-elected to a sixth consecutive two-year term as chairman of the league's board of governors.

Hotchkiss played a huge role on the NHL's negotiating team during the recently completed labour talks between the league and its players and had contemplated stepping aside after the arduous work but decided to stay in place.

"I am thrilled that Harley has agreed to stay on as chairman," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Harley has provided outstanding leadership to the league and the entire board looks to him with great respect."

READY FOR THE CALENDAR: The Flames and the rest of the NHL will unveil the 2005-06 schedule tomorrow.

Bettman said last week all 30 teams will open the season Oct. 5.

This season, Calgary will play its four Northwest Division rivals -- Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota and Vancouver -- eight times each (four at home and four on the road), while meeting the 10 other Western Conference squads four times, twice at the Saddledome.

The rotating inter-divisional schedule will see the five Northeast squads, Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto visit Calgary, while the Flames will travel to the homes of the five Atlantic Division teams, New Jersey, the New York Rangers and Islanders, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

HABS SKIP OPTION: The Montreal Canadiens have decided not to exercise club options on the contracts of d-man Patrice Brisebois and minor-league forward Gavin Morgan.

Brisebois was to have earned $3.4 million US next season after the 24% rollback in player salaries contained in the new collective bargaining agreement. The Montreal native's contract contained a $760,000 buyout clause if the team option was not exercised. Brisebois, now an unrestricted free agent, is allowed to sign a new deal with Montreal at a lower salary if he chooses.

Said Habs GM Bob Gainey: "The message we are sending today is that we will look at available players in a market that is more open now. Of course, our decision also gives Patrice the right to look elsewhere."

Gainey refused to be pinned down when asked if Brisebois' days in Montreal were numbered.

"We might meet and who knows what the future will bring," he said, noting Brisebois was informed of the decision yesterday.

"Patrice knew very well that we would have a decision to make and he was prepared for that eventuality. He was disappointed but realistic."

ICE CHIPS: The Detroit Red Wings moved to shed salary, placing defenceman Derian Hatcher and forwards Darren McCarty and Ray Whitney on waivers. If the trio go unclaimed, the Wings have the option of buying out their contracts and making them UFAs ... Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix said the Avs will honour the contracts of Joe Sakic and Rob Blake and insists he hasn't given up on the notion of keeping Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote ... The Phoenix Coyotes have bought out left-winger Brian Savage, the Arizona Republic reported, quoting "multiple NHL sources." ... The L.A. Kings have re-signed Luc Robitaille.


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