Dowling returns as interim coach

TY PILSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

The Calgary Roughnecks looked to their past when it came to choosing a new head coach to lead them for the immediate future.

The NLL team announced yesterday it had hired former assistant coach Jeff Dowling to serve as interim head coach for the final seven regular-season games and potential playoffs, replacing Chris Hall who was fired two weeks ago.

Following this season, the 39-year-old Dowling and Riggers GM Kurt Silcott will make a decision on Dowling's future with the club.

"He's coming in to be the head coach and we're going to talk about next year when the year's over," said Silcott.

"We're really just going to focus on this year at this point and he's comfortable with that. That's what I suggested and he suggested. So, we'll just see what happens."

Dowling was hired midway through the 2004 campaign and the defensive guru helped the Riggers win the Champion's Cup that year. He resigned following last season, citing the extensive travel from his home in Ancaster, Ont., which kept him away from his wife and three young children.

So what changed?

"There's only five weekends left in the season, plus playoffs," said Dowling, who had been serving as the assistant GM and director of player personnel for the expansion New York Titans.

"Whereas before you have all of training camp and the full season. I tried to count it up and I think it worked out to 24 weekends away from home.

"I think (Kurt and I) both want to see how this year goes and I want to see how the travel goes with my family situation before I can look at next year. So, it was good both of us just wanted to commit to this year for now."

Earl Caron -- the last remaining member of the bench staff after Hall was fired and offensive assistant coach Kevin Alexander resigned -- will stay on under Dowling. Silcott said he planned to talk to Dowling last night regarding whether the team needs an offensive specialist to replace Alexander.

Silcott said there were many candidates for the job -- although he declined to name them -- but said Dowling's familiarity with the players allows him to step in and make a relatively seamless transition.

"Ultimately, Jeff knows the guys, knows the system and was a good coach and a good asset when he was here," said Silcott. "We talked and were on the same page with what we want to do."

Hall was fired because Silcott and owner Brad Banister felt the club, currently 5-4, was underachieving. Dowling, a good friend of Hall's who spoke to him before accepting the job, said he feels the Riggers have the personnel to win the championship this year.

"It's hard to say (if they tuned Hall out) because he's been with the team so long," said Dowling. "I think it was the old adage that you can't fire 23 players. I think Chris ended up being the one that had to go because the team wasn't performing as well as they should have."

Dowling, who spoke to the Sun yesterday from Orlando, Fla., where he was vacationing with his family, will take in this weekend's all-star game in Portland and meet up with his new charges next Thursday prior to the Riggers game in Glendale, Ariz., the following night against the Sting.

QUICK STICKS:

WWE superstar Chris Masters will be on hand for the ceremonial faceoff and to sign autographs when the Roughnecks host the Arizona Sting March 24 at the 'Dome ... Calgary's Tracey Kelusky, Lewis Ratcliff and Taylor Wray will take part in this Saturday's all-star game. Ratcliff was named the MVP last year in Toronto ... Sportsnet announced this week it will broadcast the all-star game at 8 p.m. Saturday night.


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