Calgary, AB – Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter announced today the addition of Rob Cookson as assistant coach to the Calgary Flames staff, and Jared Bednar and Steve O’Rourke as assistant coaches to the Abbotsford Heat (AHL) staff.
Rob Cookson is entering his ninth season with the Flames coaching staff. Cookson, a native of Lacombe, Alberta has an impressive resume of coaching and technical experience in the hockey world. Before joining the Flyers as their video coach for three seasons, he served as an assistant coach for the Canadian Men’s Olympic Team in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
More recently, he worked alongside Brent Sutter as an Assistant Coach for Team Canada’s gold medal winning team at the 2005 World Junior Championships. In April 2003, Rob joined the Canadian National Men’s Team as an Assistant Coach at the World Championships and played an important role as Canada captured the gold medal in the tournament. It was Rob’s third stint as assistant coach for Canada at the World Championships.
Rob began his career with the Canadian Hockey program in 1991 as Manager of Video Production, assisting the Canadian National Team’s coaching staff (men’s, women’s and junior) with video preparation, analysis and video pre-scouting. As an Assistant Coach with Team Canada, Cookson has won five gold medals (1995, 1996, 1997, 2005 World Juniors and 1997, 2003 World Championships). He also served as a video technician for the Canadian Men’s Olympic Team in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Rob and his wife Shirley make Calgary their year round home.
Jared Bednar just finished his second season as head coach and his first season as General Manager for the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL). He was named as the team’s fourth head coach on Apr. 27, 2007 following five seasons as assistant coach. In his first season in 2007-08, the Stingrays finished second in the South Division with 97 points, the second-highest total in team history, and set a team record with 47 wins.
South Carolina returned to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for a league record 14th time and won three decisive Game 5s to advance to the conference finals before losing to Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati. The 36 year old is in his 14th season with the organization having helped the Stingrays win the Kelly Cup in 1997 and 2001.
The defenseman had 95 points and ranks fifth among Stingrays players with 794 regular season penalty minutes while his 279 regular games are seventh. He played nine seasons in the ECHL and had 173 points and 1,210 penalty minutes in 434 regular season games and 17 points and 157 penalty minutes in 56 postseason games with South Carolina and Huntington.
He also played parts of three seasons in the American Hockey League and the original International Hockey League where he had 26 points and 420 penalty minutes in 148 games. Bednar and his wife Susan have a son, Kruz, and a daughter, Savega.
Steve O’Rourke comes to the Abbotsford Heat from the Okanagan Hockey School where he was the Operations Manager. O’Rourke has a wide range of coaching experience, from the KIJHL, to Major Midget in the Okanagan, to the B.C. Cup.
His playing career concluded with three seasons in the UHL with Quad City, Muskegon, and Adirondack. O’Rourke also spent time playing with Mississippi and Louisiana (ECHL), Bracknell (BISL), University of Lethbridge (CWUAA), Pentiction (BCHL) and Tri-City and Moose Jaw (WHL). He was drafted in the seventh round (159th overall) by the New York Islanders in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.