The Nipawin Hawks re-signed Head Coach and General Manager Doug Johnson to a three-year contract extension.
Johnson spent the previous nine Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) seasons as the Hawks’ head coach, with a record of 298-169-22-25 during that span. The Hawks won one of their two SJHL championships and made the playoffs in eight straight seasons under Johnson’s watch.
Johnson told northeastNOW he was interested in other opportunities as well, but a move would also have to make sense for his family.
“Nipawin has treated me very well and I’d like to think I’ve helped the Nipawin Hawks also,” Johnson said. “It just seems to be a good fit, especially with my wife being from here and my kids being born and raised here. It’s become home to us. It’s nice to know that you’re wanted, and this isn’t an easy profession to have a job in, let alone spend up to 12 years in the same place.
“When you’ve been somewhere for nine years, you have a lot invested in it and you want to make sure it’s in good hands. The longer you’re somewhere, the tougher it is to leave. There’s a level of comfort within the community, family and friends, and people we’ve gotten to know and enjoy here. Nipawin fits into my lifestyle and at the end of the day the money worked too.”
Johnson said his favourite aspects of coaching the Hawks is working within hockey, coaching young men as they strive for their goals, and the Nipawin fans.
The Hawks appear to be promising under Johnson’s watch for the next three seasons.
One year after winning the Canalta Cup as SJHL champions in 2018, the Hawks finished first overall in league standings with a 38-15-2-3 record for 81 points in 58 games, after only being able to bring back six regulars for 2018-19.
Although they fell in the first round of the SJHL playoffs to the Yorkton Terriers in seven games, the Hawks only have six players aging out of Junior A hockey and have more returning players next season.
For the next three seasons, Johnson’s goal won’t be different than it’s been before.
“The goal every year is to win a championship,” he said. “If we don’t have another couple of banners and players aren’t leaving here with rings in the next three years, then that would be a disappointment.”
Johnson expects the Hawks to get busier by June 1 for the SJHL Bantam Draft and to sign incoming players, followed by league meetings.