And the next coach of the Reign is …

… Jason Christie.

The Reign made their formal offer to the Bloomington Blaze head coach Monday, and Christie accepted the position last night. The hiring was first reported by the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph.

“It all happened so fast,” Christie told the Pantagraph on Tuesday morning. “It’s a
great opportunity there, but it will be very hard to leave

Update 1: The Reign issued a press release confirming the hire.

Update 2: I just spoke to Mark Hardy, the former Kings defenseman and assistant coach, who confirmed that he has been offered the job of assistant coach. He is still mulling the offer.

Even if he declines, it’s a significant step for the 52-year-old Hardy, who resigned his assistant coaching post with the Kings after he was charged with felony fourth-degree sexual abuse in May 2010. The charges were later dropped.

But if Hardy’s return to hockey comes as an ECHL assistant, it’s hard to believe that the year-old scandal — a hot topic for the non-sports media after it was reported by TMZ — was overlooked. Hardy has since given up drinking, participated in several Kings alumni events and, most significantly, reconciled with his family. If he can reconcile with the hockey establishment too, the story would reverberate farther than the Reign hiring Christie as the head coach.

For what it’s worth, I spoke to two current players about the possibility of adding Hardy. One called it “great.” The other said it would be “phenomenal.”

Update 3: Justin Kemp said that he has one other assistant coaching candidate in mind besides Hardy. If both decline the offer, the Reign will go without an assistant coach. Kemp also divulged a few details about the Christie hire:

• It’s a two-year contract with an option for a third.
• Christie was his top choice “for the past few days,” after “we went back and forth a couple times early on.”
• Kemp said he got “somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30” applications for the head coaching position. None were from fans who thought they could do a better job than Karl Taylor.
• Because of a recent ownership change in Bloomington, Christie technically wasn’t currently under contract.
• Kemp wants Christie in Ontario in time for the free agent tryout camp, Sept. 23 and 24. Prior to that, the Reign will host a community “meet and greet” with the new coach at a time, date and location to be announced.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.