The timing was just right.
That is how former LaRonge Ice Wolves coach and general manager Bob Beatty sums up the decision he made to leave the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League after 17 seasons to take on the same dual-role position with the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.
“It was an opportunity that I felt I had to take at this time,” said Beatty earlier this week from his office in LaRonge. “I had other opportunities in the past, but the timing wasn’t good. At this point, I felt I had to jump at this one.”
Beatty admits the offer from the BCJHL came up suddenly and even caught himself by surprise. He says it will be somewhat strange moving to another league, but he is ready for the challenge.
“I’ve had great memories (in the SJHL) and it has been a great run,” says Beatty. “I’m thankful for the organization and the fans who support the team.”
Beatty leaves behind some big shoes to fill and a long list of achievements.
The 58-year-old Watrous native joined the SJHL coaching ranks at the end of the 1996-97 season when he took over the reigns of the Humboldt Broncos. Over the next seven seasons he built the Broncos into a perennial contender which culminated in a 2003 Royal Bank Cup championship.
In seven-plus years with Humboldt, Beatty posted a 235-145-60 record and was named the league’s coach of the year on two occasions.
Beatty then decided to leave the organization for another challenge and that was to turn around the fledgling franchise in the SJHL’s most northern outreaches.
Beatty spent nine years in LaRonge with two of those – 2009-10 and 2010-11 – resulting in league championships. During his time with the Ice Wolves he guided the club to an overall record of 242-212-12-25 and added another coach-of-the-year award to his trophy case.
With this past season being a rebuilding effort where the Ice Wolves managed just 20 victories and three shootout losses in 54 games, Beatty says that had no weight in the decision to leave. It was all about opportunity.
“We had a young team this year,” admits Beatty. “We had a lot of work to do like any team.”
Beatty feels the future for the Ice Wolves is in good shape as he worked hard at developing the current protected list of players and that the potential for a strong year next season is very good.
“I can’t take all of the credit for this,” says Beatty. “(Assistant coach) Ron Holloway is an integral part of the team.”
When the Ice Wolves failed to make the post season, Beatty wasted little time in announcing his decision to move on. While no replacement has been made in LaRonge, Beatty is working with the team to make the transition easier before he leaves next week to see his new club in action.
Cowichan Valley, who’s coach Jim Ingram stepped down at the end of January after the Capitals struggled this season with just 13 wins in 51 games, have a couple of regular-season contests remaining on their schedule for Beatty to observe. After that, the architect of three SJHL champions will get to work and put his imprint on the franchise.
If past history repeats itself, Cowichan Valley should be a contender in the very near future.