By Lethbridge Herald on May 15, 2015.
Peter Anholt’s dominoes continue to fall.
When Anholt signed a three-year extension to be the Lethbridge Hurricanes general manager last month, he said it was the first of a few more dominoes yet to be tipped over. First was the preparation for the bantam draft. They did that when they not only drafted top defence prosepct Calen Addison but also signed him.
Next up, according to Anohlt, was securing a new head scout. He did that on Thursday when the team announced the hiring of Rob MacLachlan. MacLachlan was the head scout and assistant general manager in Moose Jaw with the Warriors for more than a decade and wrapped up 14 years with his hometown team when he was fired in January.
“The moment I saw that he was released by Moose Jaw, I thought for us, that could very well be a real good possibility, and throughout the second half of the year, he and I had had some contact just see if it was going to be a fit and we had a number of meetings and I became a more more comfortable with him and we just kept moving forward with it,” said Anholt.
Anholt received permission to talk to MacLachlan from Warriors GM Al Millar and although he was not permitted to join the team until after the bantam draft, Anholt said all that was left was to finalize his contract.
MacLachlan said he had a few options after his time with the Warriors ended in late January, but it always came back to the challenge of working with a team which has struggled mightily in recent years.
“Let’s be honest, when you look at how things have gone there recently, it is going to be a challenge to turn it around,” said MacLachlan. “And I like challenges. I could go to a team that’s already at the top, or maybe heading that way but I take more pride in being part of turning things around for a team that’s struggling.”
MacLachlan said when he joined the Warriors as head scout 11 years ago, the team was having trouble recruiting players. In the years since? Well, the Warriors have drafted players like Brayden Point, who could be the WHL MVP next season. In an unlrelated note, the Hurricanes selected Ryan Pilon and Reid Duke at four and six respectively, in that draft. The Warriors selected Brayden Point (87 points last season). Not to mention past Warriors’ stars like Morgan Rielly and Travis Hamonic.
Of course, the Warriors then took Miles Warkentine at No. 16. But MacLachlan has hit on quite a few picks. He’s also been part of a group which selected players like Tanner Eberle, Brett Howden and Torrin White and Dustin Perillat.
He and Anholt both agreed the recipe for success needs more than one ingredient.
“I think you have to be friends, certainly for the business decisions you make as a head scout and a GM,” said MacLachlan. “But you need to be friends on that personal level, you need to have that connection to really make it work. So I definitely think you need that head scout, that GM and the head coach but you really, really, need your scouts to be there because it’s so important.”
MacLachlan said scouts are the first interaction a WHL team has with its players. At 14 or 15, scouts are already talking to players and their parents, building a relationship that sets the tone for the next five years.
“That’s why a scouting staff is so important. You’re talking to those kids, to those parents, and that’s the first real impression they get of your organization,” he said. “So those guys, to me for sure, are the most important people on your team.”
“He’s seen a lot of cycles of players,” said Anholt. “We’ve seen each other around rinks lots and he’s an old farmer and I’m an old farmer and an old Saskatchewan guy, so yeah, it was just an easy fit. A real easy fit.”
The Canes also named Todd Hassen as assistant head scout. Anholt said he likes that while Hassen is based in Saskatoon, MacLachlan is based out of Okotoks. Although they’ll both be doing a lot of travelling.
The next domino to fall will be a head coach. The veteran of 17 seasons behind the bench said he’s down to a list of three, but if those fall through, he’s willing to expand that number. His past comments have indicated he’ll look for a teaching coach, not a systems-heavy old-school type. Given his contacts — and former players — currently in the coaching ranks, Anholt’s list could be almost anybody.
NOTES — MacLachlan’s ties to the Warriors include the team’s Shanon MacLachlan True Warrior Award, named for his late wife. … The Warriors employ Lethbridge resident Bob Bartlett, himself a former Hurricanes general manager and coach.
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