Saturday, December 10, 2011

Watson out, Gilbert new Saginaw coach

The Saginaw Spirit announced today that head coach and GM Todd Watson has been relieved of his duties.

The Spirit are also announcing the appointment of Greg Gilbert as the team’s sixth coach in franchise history.

Gilbert was at the helm during two of the best seasons in the history of the Mississauga/Niagara IceDogs franchise, leading them to an appearance in the OHL final in the 2003-04 season where they were defeated by the Guelph Storm, and the following season when the IceDogs won the OHL’s Central Division title and finished first overall in the Eastern Conference in the regular season.

Gilbert has also served as an assistant and head coach of the Calgary Flames for parts of four seasons and has also worked as the head coach of three teams in the American Hockey League.

Spirit assistant GM and head scout Jim Paliafito has been elevated to the team’s GM position.

Watson (pictured) assumed the Spirit’s coaching duties prior to the 2007-08 season and compiled a regular season record of 154-115-20-13. In the playoffs, the Spirit’s record under Watson was 12-18.

“We recognize the many on-ice accomplishments that Todd has achieved while here in Saginaw as head coach and as GM," said Saginaw president Craig Goslin. "Todd has left our on-ice program better than he found it. We wish him all the best in his career."

On the ice, Gilbert suited up for three seasons with the OHA/OHL’s Toronto Marlboros before embarking on a 15-year NHL career where he was on the roster for three Stanley Cup champion teams, twice with the New York Islanders during their run of four straight Cup victories in the early 1980’s and the 1994 edition of the New York Rangers.

Gilbert appeared in 837 career games in the NHL recording 150 goals and 228 assists.

“After playing 15 seasons in the NHL and possessing a strong coaching resume that includes three seasons as a head coach in the NHL, seven seasons as a head coach in the AHL and three seasons as a coach in the OHL, we feel that Greg Gilbert will offer a strong developmental environment for our players and push our franchise to the next level," commented Goslin. "Once our fans get to know him, they will realize that Saginaw has hired one of the best coaches in the 60-team CHL. I am excited for our players and I am excited for our fans."

Gilbert is appreciative of his new coaching assignment.

“I am very honored and thankful for this opportunity that Dick Garber and Craig Goslin have given me," said Gilbert. "I am looking forward to getting to Saginaw and getting the club going in the right direction.”

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