Columbus Blue Jackets President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced thursday that Ross Yates has been named head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, Columbus' American Hockey League affiliate.
“Ross has been a valued member of the Blue Jackets organization for the last six years,” said MacLean. “We are thrilled to have him and we know he will do a great job as the head coach of the Syracuse Crunch.”
“Ross' experience as a player and a coach in North America and Europe make him the ideal candidate to assume this role,” said Blue Jackets Executive Vice-President and Assistant General Manager Jim Clark, who oversees Syracuse’s hockey operations for Columbus.
Yates returns to the Crunch for his seventh season and first as head coach, after serving as the team’s assistant coach from 2000-2006. He replaces Gary Agnew, who has joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach.
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. Yates has held four other head coaching positions in Europe in the 1990’s, including stints in the German, Italian and Swiss Elite Leagues.
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 goals and 84 assists for 125 points and was named the AHL Most Valuable Player and The Hockey News Minor League Player of the Year. He earned AHL All-Star honors the next year (1983-1984) and made his NHL debut with Hartford late in the season, collecting two points (1g, 1a) in seven games. He was selected to the Binghamton Hockey Hall of Fame during the 2002-03 season.
A native of Montreal, Quebec, Yates signed with Manheim of the German Elite League in 1984. Over the next eight years, he suited up for four different teams in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. In 1986, he also made a brief North American stop in Rochester (AHL), playing 22 games, recording four goals and eight assists.
He becomes the fourth head coach in Crunch history (Jack McIlhargey, 1994 – 1999, Stan Smyl, 1999-00 and Gary Agnew 2000 – 2006).
Yates and his wife Laurie, have three children Jennifer (18), Patrick (15) and Trevor (11).