The Saskatoon Blades have announced a restructuring of their coaching and hockey operations staff, effective immediately. The change includes associate coach David Struch being promoted to the role of head coach.
Outgoing head coach Lorne Molleken will remain on as both general manager and alternate governor.
The rest of the Blades coaching staff will stay intact, including Jerome Engele and Curtis Leschyshyn staying on as assistant coaches, with Tim Cheveldae remaining in place as the goaltending coach.
"Our organization has full confidence in what David can do with this team going forward", said general manager Lorne Molleken. "He has been a part of this coaching staff for the past 7 years. He's done the necessary work to become a head coach in this league. He's passionate about coaching, the city of Saskatoon and the Blades. We feel that he'll be a great fit as we enter a new and exciting era as an organization."
Struch first joined the Blades in a coaching capacity following the 2005-06 season. He is also a former player for the organization, appearing in 253 career regular season games with the team from 1988 until 1992. Struch also had a long and successful playing career following his time as a player with the Blades, going on to play 12 seasons of professional hockey including a stint with the Calgary Flames.
The change in head coach also marks the end to an impressive coaching career for Lorne Molleken. He has spent 24 seasons behind the bench at various levels of hockey, including 17 in the Western Hockey League and 13 as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. Earlier this season, Molleken became only the second coach in WHL history to reach 600 career victories. His team's have also taken home four Eastern Division titles, a pair of Eastern Conference championships and a Scotty Munro Trophy as the WHL's top team in the 2010-11 regular season.
"We really like the players we have returning for next season," said Molleken. "We've got a number of character prospects in our system who are eager to prove themselves. Our coaching staff is looking forward to getting them all into training camp and starting the process of putting their stamp on the 2013-14 Saskatoon Blades."
(Saskatoon Blades hockey club)