A familiar face will be behind the bench of the Edmonton Oilers’ American Hockey League affiliate as Geoff Ward has been named the head coach of the Springfield Falcons.
When Ward steps behind the Springfield bench for the 2007-08 season, it will mark the fourth time that the 45-year-old native of Manitouwadge, Ontario has served as head coach of the Oilers’ primary AHL affiliate.
“We are pleased to welcome Geoff back to the Oilers,” stated Edmonton Oilers assistant general manager, Scott Howson. “Geoff was a very valuable member of the organization during his previous time with the team. He has a proven track record when it comes to developing players and we look forward to him working with our young players in Springfield.”
“We are extremely excited to have Geoff join the Falcons organization and lead our team on the ice starting this coming season,” said Springfield President and General Manager, Bruce Landon. “Geoff brings to Springfield a good amount of AHL head coaching experience and he will be a coach that is very familiar with the Oilers organization.”
Ward’s involvement with the Oilers began in January 2001 when he was named an assistant coach with the Hamilton Bulldogs under head coach Claude Julien. Ward returned as the Bulldogs’ assistant coach the following season and helped guide Hamilton to a berth in the 2002 Calder Cup semi-finals.
The 2002-03 season saw him begin his third year as the Bulldogs assistant coach and finish the campaign as the team’s head coach. Ward became Hamilton’s interim head coach on January 17, 2003 following Julien’s appointment as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and he was named the Bulldogs full-time head coach 10 days later on January 27, 2003.
In 35 regular season games behind the Hamilton bench, Ward compiled a 16-13-5-1 (.543) record and led the Bulldogs to first place in the AHL’s overall standings. The post-season saw Ward and the Bulldogs win three of four playoff series as they posted a 14-9 (.609) record on their way to the Calder Cup Final, where they lost in seven games to the Houston Aeros.
Ward was rewarded for his efforts that season as he shared the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award with Julien as the AHL’s Coach-of-the-Year.
Ward made the move to Toronto in 2003-04 when the Oilers shifted their AHL affiliate from Hamilton, serving as the head coach of the Toronto Roadrunners and he was behind the bench in 2004-05 when Edmonton brought their number one affiliate to Rexall Place during the NHL lockout.
He then served as the Oilers’ development coach in 2005-06 before heading to Europe for the 2006-07 season, where he was the head coach of the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Ward led the Roosters to a 18-6-4-24 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, finishing in 11th place in the 14-team German league.
Ward’s coaching resume has seen him behind the bench with the Kitchener Rangers, Guelph Storm and Mississauga Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League, leading Kitchener and Guelph to Central Division titles in 1996-97 and 1998-99, respectively. He was the head coach of the Arkansas Riverblades of the East Coast Hockey League in 1999-00 and began the 2000-01 season with Bad Nauheim of the German Bundesliga before joining Hamilton. During the summer of 1998 Ward led Canada’s men’s under-18 team to the gold medal at the Four Nations Cup tournament.