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Glen Hanlon returns to Vancouver as an assistant coach with the Giants

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VANCOUVER - It was a choice between family and career that brought Glen Hanlon back to where it all began.

The 54-year-old former Vancouver Canucks goaltender is in the middle of his first week as a Giants assistant coach after formally accepting the position on June 23.

Hanlon was most recently a head coach of the Slovakian national team. He also coached in Belarus, and was the head coach of the Washington Capitals from 2003-'07.

"This is the first time I've ever made family involved in a decision and it feels really good," said Hanlon. "My son wants me home and I want to be home. I want to be involved in hockey and I want to work as an assistant coach."

Hanlon's nine-year-old son Jackson was in contact with his father while he was still coaching overseas in Slovakia prompting the 15-year NHL veteran to move home.

"Every decision in hockey from the time I've likely been eight-years-old has been about moving up and trying to get to the NHL," he said. "I've missed out on the raising of my son for three or four years and now I'm having an opportunity to maybe correct that a bit."

After he returned, it was an old friend and teammate, Stan Smyl, who alerted Hanlon of the coaching vacancy with the WHL club.

"Stan had mentioned that (Giants head coach) Don (Hay) had actually contacted him to see if he knew anyone," said Hanlon. "For me, it was a perfect fit and I ended up calling Ron (Toigo) to see if there was an opportunity there to interview for the job. It felt perfect. When I made the call, it just felt great."

It was a phone call, which caught Toigo, the Giants majority owner, off guard.

"Glen said, 'Is that job still available?' and I said, 'You got to be kidding me,'" said Toigo. "I said, 'First thing Glen, we're not the NHL and it would be a huge pay cut' and he said, 'It's not about money at all.'

"He went and met with Don and it was an easy decision, believe me."

The move presents a home coming of sorts for the Brandon, Man. native. Hanlon was picked by Vancouver in the third round of the 1977 NHL draft. He spent four seasons between the pipes for the Canucks and then rejoined the club for the 1992-93 season as a scout and goaltending coach.

"Driving down here I was kind of wondering, I left here in 1999 on my own choice to go to Portland to coach in the American Hockey League to start my own head coaching career, here we are 11-years later and we're back to where it started. I'm wondering if it was all worth it," he joked.

The former Brandon Wheat King went on to play with the St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings before turning to coaching.

Hanlon brings a veteran presence behind the Giants' bench as Hay will leave the team in December to coach Canada at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship.

"The Vancouver Giants organization has a reputation as being a first-class organization and that's what they did again bringing in a name like Glen Hanlon," said Giants forward and Montreal Canadiens draft pick Brendan Gallagher.

"He's obviously very experienced, he's played in the NHL, he's coached in the NHL and he's been around a lot of very knowledgeable hockey minds.

"For us, as players, we're very excited to soak up all the information and it should be a good year for us."

With the hiring of Hanlon, the Giants are the only team in the Canadian Hockey League to have two former NHL head coaches behind their bench.

Hanlon joins Yogi Svejkovsky, and Paul Fricker rounding out Vancouver's coaching staff. Former assistant coach Chad Scharff has taken over as the team's equipment manager.

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