Sunday, December 24, 2006

Steel Coaching Change Release

Steel Names Former NHL Defenseman Steve Poapst Head Coach

Bensenville, IL (December 22, 2006) -- The Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League announced today that Steve Poapst has replaced Chris Imes as head coach, effective immediately. Steel General Manager Jason Koehler made the announcement.

Poapst is a native of Cornwall, Ontario and a graduate of Colgate University who spent eight seasons as a defenseman in the National Hockey League, including four with the Chicago Blackhawks (2000-2001 to 2003-2004). He appeared in a total of 307 NHL games and registered eight goals, 26 assists and 173 penalty minutes with four different teams. Poapst, who will turn 38 years old on January 3, retired as a player after appearing in a combined 62 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues last season.

The Steel did not have to go far in filling the head coaching position. The strong ties and strong hockey network that the Steel hold with the Edge Ice Arena and their ties with the Chicago Blackhawks proved to be a key element in this search. These ties and endorsements proved to be even stronger when the backing of Poapst came from Blackhawks Senior Vice President Bob Pulford, Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon and Blackhawks Head Coach Denis Savard.

This year, Poapst had been serving as coach of the Chicago Mission 1993 hockey club, one of the top-rated bantam minor programs in the country (16-1-2). He will make his USHL coaching debut next Friday -- December 29th -- at 7:30 p.m. when the Steel hosts the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets at the Edge Ice Arena. No other current USHL coach played in the NHL.

“We’re a much better program than our current record (4-17-1) indicates, and we felt that we needed to go in a different direction for the final 38 games of the season and into the playoffs,” Koehler said. “We believe that Steve Poapst will help change the on-ice direction of this club and improve our focus and attitude. Someone with Steve’s abilities, and his experiences at the highest level of professional hockey, will no doubt benefit our players here in Chicago a great deal.”

Jon Waibel, who was the Steel’s assistant coach under Imes, will continue to serve in that capacity under Poapst.

I think the Steel needs to take a look at Koehler and what he can't do, and that's make the Steel a better team. I think once Koehler goes, the organization can grow and hopefully get a little bit better.

I agree that it was time for Imes to go. Good thing everyone is in the playoffs, or Poapst would have an even tougher task in getting the Steel into playoff contention.

Here's to me wishing Steve Poapst and Jon Waibel good luck in the coaching department.

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