The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/30/14 at 05:00 AM ET
I've been allowed to Tweet this stuff, so:
Hiller was indeed Paul Coffey's roomate back in 1993, and he didn't last very long in the NHL, but the 45-year-old native of Nelson, BC spent three years at Northern Michigan University, and as soon as his playing career ended, he became an assistant coach for Tri-City. He spent one year as the head coach of the BCHL's Port Alberni Bulldogs, and then he went on to coach the Chilliwack Bruins for 3 seasons, and he spent the past 4 seasons with Tri-City, taking them to the WHL final in 2009.
The Tri-City Herald's Anne Fowler covered the circumstances of Hiller's departure from Tri-City in early May...
Jim Hiller was one of the longest-tenured and winningest coaches behind the Tri-City Americans bench, but after a lackluster year in which the team finished 29-33-4-6 and last in the U.S. Division, the Americans decided they needed to take the team in a new direction.
Hiller, who had been with the Americans since 2009, was fired Friday after five seasons. In his wake, he leaves two U.S. Division titles, a Western Conference title, a .619 winning percentage and a Western Hockey League Coach of the Year honor in 2012.
“Jim is a good man and a good hockey coach,” said Tri-City general manager Bob Tory. “He came in and a did a good job following Don Nachbaur. But every coach has a shelf life. I felt our team needed a fresh face and a fresh voice. The situation was given a lot of thought. I looked to others for input, and in the end, we came to a consensus as to what was best for the team.”
Hiller coached 360 regular-season games with a 210-124-11-15 record over five seasons. He did not return calls for comment.
The Americans hired Hiller as their 19th head coach at the start of the 2009 season to replace Nachbaur, who left the team after six seasons to coach the Binghamton Senators (AHL). Hiller inherited a wealth of talent and over the course of his first four seasons, the Americans won at least 40 games, including a 50-18-2-2 record in 2011-12.In the playoffs, Hiller coached a franchise-record 57 games, winning a club best 29.
In his first season, the Americans went 13-9 in the postseason, winning their first Western Conference title before losing in the WHL finals to the Calgary Hitmen in five games.In 2012, the Americans won the U.S. Division title with 104 points, edging Portland by two points. The Winterhawks would have the last laugh, sweeping Tri-City in the Western Conference final.
Tri-City lost in the first round of the playoffs the last two seasons.
And the Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen reported that Hiller turned down offers from the Vancouver Giants to pursue another path:
Scratch Jim Hiller from the list of prospective Vancouver Giants head coaches.
Scratch him for the time being, at the very least. This episode is tending to be fluid.
Hiller, the former Tri-City Americans and Chilliwack Bruins bench boss, has apparently told the Giants that he’s looking at other options, according to WHL sources. Possibilities for Hiller? He and former NHL rearguard Brad Werenka, who was his teammate at Northern Michigan University, have apparently put together an analytics program that draws rave reviews from everyone they show it to. I talked to someone who figured he might take the year off from coaching to get the program in the hands of NHL teams.
As Twitter is a collaborative business...
Quoting Team Sweden GM Tommy Boustedt:
"[Assistant coach Rickard] Gronborg, Babcock and I get a very interesting lecture by Jim Niller on a new system of player evaluation."
Hiller also had to guide the Americans through controversy as 25-year-old journalist Tieja MacLaughlin was dating Tri-City's Jackson Playfair, and she threatened the player.
I didn't receive any news as to whether Hiller would be working with the Wings' forwards or whether he'd be working with the Wings' defensemen, which is Tony Granato's specialty.
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