Spokane, WA -- The Spokane Chiefs have named Don Nachbaur, ninth on the WHL’s all-time coaching win list, as the organization’s 11th head coach in franchise history. Nachbaur has won 431 games in 12 seasons, six each in Seattle and Tri-City, as a head coach in the WHL and is a two-time winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy for the WHL’s Coach of the Year (1995-Seattle, 2008-Tri-City).
The contract between Nachbaur and the Chiefs is a five-year agreement.
“I always appreciated the fact that Spokane was a strong, well run franchise,” Nachbaur said.
“When coaching against Spokane I thought they were always one of the toughest teams to play. The word professional comes to mind. It is a great building, Spokane has good teams and you always want to be a part of something like that.”
“We are thrilled to have a coach of Don’s credentials head up our staff. He is a very experienced and accomplished head coach who works extremely hard. He gets the most out of his players and his teams are committed and dedicated to their gameplan,” Chiefs General Manager Tim Speltz said.
Nachbaur’s first season as a head coach, 1994-95, resulted in a 42 win campaign and his first coach of the year honor with the Seattle Thunderbirds. In 1996-97 the Thunderbirds won 41 games and the Western Conference Championship. They advanced to the WHL Finals for the only time in franchise history.
Following a two year stint as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League, Nachbaur returned to the WHL with the Tri-City Americans as their head coach in 2003-04. In six full seasons there he recorded a 235-155-25-17 (W-L-SL-OTL) record including consecutive seasons of 47, 52 and 49 wins in his last three years.
The Americans’ 108 point campaign in 2007-08 set a franchise record for wins (52) and points and resulted in the Scotty Munro Trophy for most points in the WHL. Nachbaur also won his second WHL Coach of the Year trophy. In the post-season, he guided the Americans to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing a seven game series that featured five overtime games, including three that went into double overtime, to the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Chiefs.
“The thing I remember most was how both teams went into each other’s building and won,” Nachbaur said
“It was a close, close series and there are a lot of memories from it. There was good jockeying going on between the coaches with the systems but at the end of the day neither team wanted to lose. It is a credit to both teams and the culture they had in the locker room.
“It goes hand in hand with every team’s rival. We didn’t like losing to them and they didn’t like losing to us and you have to respect that,” Nachbaur said.
Nachbaur helped the Americans win their first two U.S. Division regular season titles in 2007-08 and 2008-09. His WHL teams have qualified for the playoffs each season and he stands as one of 11 coaches in WHL history with over 400 career wins.
The Kitamat, British Columbia native left the Americans organization last July to accept the head coaching position with the Binghamton Senators, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. Two weeks ago, Nachbaur resigned from that post.
“I know the WHL and how well it is run,” Nachbaur said. “I have a grasp on what it takes to win in the league. Hockey in North America is very competitive and the WHL doesn’t take a back seat to anybody.”
As a player, Nachbaur spent two seasons in the WHL, both with the Billings Bighorns, and scored 67 goals and 146 points in 137 games from 1977-79. He still shares the WHL record with five goals in one playoff game helping lead Billings to a 7-4 win over New Westminster in 1978.
The Hartford Whalers selected him in the third round, 60th overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. The first of his 15 year professional career began the following season in the American Hockey League with Springfield. Nachbaur’s career included 223 games in the NHL with Hartford, Edmonton and Philadelphia. He also played 469 games in the AHL, recording 174 goals, 361 points and 1,452 penalty minutes. He retired in 1993-94 after four seasons in Austria.
Nachbaur and his family, wife Kim, 18-year-old daughter Sydney and 14-year-old son Daniel, will make Spokane
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)