Christie, ECHL on verge of awkward moment.

At some point this season, Jason Christie will move into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time ECHL wins list. The Reign coach is presently tied with Jeff Brubaker and Malcolm Cameron with 317 career wins.

In an odd twist, Christie can do so without actually coaching a game.

The ECHL suspended Christie one game, to be served tomorrow in Las Vegas, for grabbing an official’s shirt toward the end of Sunday night’s game against the Stockton Thunder. Assistant coach Mark Hardy will be the only Reign coach in the locker room or behind the bench tomorrow.

However, a spokesperson for the league said Wednesday via e-mail that “the
ECHL credits the head coach with the win, loss, etc. if he is
suspended, so the result of Thursday’s game will be reflected on Jason’s

If the Reign beat the Las Vegas Wranglers tomorrow, Christie might end up watching his career milestone on a grainy internet feed.

The ECHL doesn’t officially keep records for Most Awkward Moments, but this one could rank fairly high on the list. Already, the league put out a news release recognizing Christie’s 317th win.

We can only imagine how the next release might read.

Christie suspended one game and other notes.

Reign coach Jason Christie was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount Tuesday by the ECHL. The coach was hardly surprised, after he grabbed the shirt of linesman Steven Walsh late in the third period of Sunday’s 2-0 loss.

Assistant Mark Hardy will be the only coach behind the Reign bench Thursday in Las Vegas. It’s the first time Hardy has been in that position since 1995, when he was on injured reserve as a defenseman for the IHL’s Detroit Vipers and then-Vipers coach Rick Dudley asked Hardy to coach 19 games.

Christie hasn’t been suspended by the ECHL since receiving a three-game ban in 2001 when, as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen, he was involved in an altercation with the opposing coach during a game.

Plenty more from Christie in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

A few more notes from practice:
Continue reading “Christie suspended one game and other notes.” »

Epilogue on a whirlwind week.

One could make the argument that the past two weeks were the most important in Reign history.

Think about it: A week ago Monday, Karl Taylor was the head coach, the Canucks were contemplating becoming a secondary affiliate, there was still no broadcaster, no assistant coach, and game-day parking at Citizens Business Bank Arena was still free for everyone. Today, Jason Christie and his offense-first approach are in the director’s chair and Mark Hardy is his right-hand man. Dan Hubbard is the internet radio voice, and season-ticket holders better hold onto that “free parking” sticker.

Much has changed in a short amount of time. We won’t know until October what it all means as wins and losses go, but if you’ve been following the team for any amount of time, you have to be intrigued by the possibilities. (Maybe not so much about the parking thing.)

I collected a lot of quotes this week that didn’t make the paper or the blog. Here they are:
Continue reading “Epilogue on a whirlwind week.” »

Hardy accepts assistant coaching offer.

Mark Hardy was running out of superlatives Wednesday to describe what it meant to become a professional hockey coach again.

“Awesome.” “A dream come true.” “A step in the right direction.” “A great feeling.”

You get the picture.

The 52-year-old former Kings defenseman and assistant coach turned down an offer to become a salesperson for a local electrician, choosing instead to return to the game as a minor-league assistant with the Reign. The one-year contract was formally announced today, one day after Jason Christie was named the new head coach.

Hardy’s exile from the Kings, and subsequent recovery, has been well-documented here and elsewhere. Will that come with a negative reaction, or is all forgiven from Kings fans?

I’ll have his thoughts about that, as well as those from Reign President Justin Kemp, in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

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.