WHEELING, W.Va. – The Wheeling Nailers announced yesterday that the contract of Head Coach Mike Bavis would not be renewed.
Wheeling was 24-30-5 this season, which was last in the Central Division. In the two seasons under Bavis’ leadership, the Nailers were 55-61-15. The black and Vegas gold also failed to qualify for the postseason in either season with Bavis at the helm.
“We would like to thank Mike for the work he did for our organization, and we wish him the best as he moves forward,” said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. “We remain committed to putting a winning team on the ice, and believe it is in the best interest of the team to move in a different direction for the 2020-21 season.”
The team will begin its search for the 19th head coach in team history immediately. This will be the fourth head coach hired since Wheeling made the Kelly Cup Finals following the 2015-16 season.
One possibility to replace Bavis would be former Nailers Captain Derek Army. Army is the son of Tim Army, who is currently the head coach of the Iowa Wild in the AHL. Army was the assistant coach for the Worchester Railers but was released in November when the Railers relieved then-Head Coach Jamie Russell of his duties.
Army was in his second season as a coach after playing in the ECHL and AHL for five seasons. Army’s father was an assistant coach in Wilkes Barre/Scranton in 2017-18, and also played for the Baby Penguins in 2015-16 Needless to say, he is very familiar with the Penguins organization and playing style.
John-Scott Dickson was in his fourth season as the Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations for the Kansas City Mavericks. After missing the playoffs in his first two seasons, the Mavericks were then eliminated in the first round of the 2019 Kelly Cup playoffs, losing to the Tulsa Oilers in seven games. Dickson was relived of his duties in January.
Larry Courville is also available at this time. Courville was the Head Coach of the Reading Royals for eight and a half seasons. Courville lead the Royals to the postseason every complete season he coached, including a Kelly Cup Championship in 2013. Courville left Reading after the 2016-17 season.
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