The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Friday that head coach Gary Agnew and assistant coach Ross Yates will return for their seventh seasons leading the Syracuse Crunch, Columbus's American Hockey League affiliate. Both signed two-year contract extensions. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
“Gary and Ross have been instrumental in developing the skills of our good, young prospects and have provided a level of coaching that has made the Crunch an extremely competitive team in the American Hockey League,” said Columbus Blue Jackets Executive Vice-President and Assistant General Manager Jim Clark. “They are both good coaches and great people and we’re thrilled to have them back.”
Agnew, 45, guided the Crunch to their first-ever division and regular season conference championships in 2001-02 and set numerous franchise marks during the 2005-06 season including wins (47) and points (102). His .545 career winning percentage is tops in club history. In 480 career games as head coach of the Crunch, he has 220 wins, 177 losses, 43 ties, 33 overtime losses and seven shootout losses.
Prior to joining the Crunch, Agnew spent 10 seasons as a head coach in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three with the London Knights. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario and raised in Montreal, Quebec, he began his coaching career with the London Knights in 1990-91 before moving to the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) in 1994-95. He returned to the Knights for the 1997-98 season and coached them to a Western Division Title. In 664 OHL games, he posted a 329-282-53 record and was named OHL Coach of the Year and First Team All-Star Coach in 1992-93 and 1997-98. Before coaching, Agnew played for the University of New Brunswick (CIAU), Fredericton Express (AHL) and Milwaukee Admirals (IHL). He has a master's degree in coaching from the University of Western Ontario.
Yates, 46, began his playing career at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, where he was an All-Canadian selection in 1980. He signed a free agent contract with Hartford in 1981 and went on to spend four years with the Whalers’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton, NY. His finest season came in 1982-83 when he tallied 41-84-125 and was named the AHL Most Valuable Player and The Hockey News Minor League Player of the Year.
Before joining the Crunch prior to the 2000-01 season, Yates spent more than a decade as a player and coach in Europe. Most recently he served as the head coach of Hamburg, a member of the German Bundesliga League. He held four other head coaching positions in Europe in the 1990’s, including stints in the German, Italian and Swiss Elite Leagues.