The Virden Oil Capitals bench will look different next season.
The Junior A hockey team announced last Friday that it would not be renewing the contract of Troy Leslie. The Elkhorn product has served as the team’s head coach and general manager since it moved to Virden as the Winnipeg Saints in 2012. Jamie Hodson, the team’s director of business and hockey operations, said it has not been easy on hockey club.
“The hockey club and myself have a tremendous amount of respect for Troy Leslie and what he has done for the team. … He has helped a lot of great hockey players out of this organization get to higher levels and different areas of life. … He is going to go on and be tremendously successful in his next endeavour in coaching.”
In regard to the move, Hodson said the decision was made by the organization and now it has to move forward. Leslie said that he has options and will take time to decide what is next. Before moving on, Leslie took time to express appreciation for many people who were part of his seven years with the franchise that he guided to the 2018 Manitoba Junior Hockey League finals and six playoff berths.
“I want to thank Virden Hockey Ventures for giving me this opportunity. Being from Elkhorn, it was great to be able to coach in the area I grew up in,” said Leslie, who led the regional Southwest Cougars midget AAA team for eight seasons.
He emphasized his appreciation for the players, saying they enriched his life incredibly.
“The best part of the coaching job is to be able to help develop young men,” he said.
Former Oil Cap Zach Whitecloud is a pro and played a game for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018. Virden product Wyatt Kalynuk will captain the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team next season. Others have had success in off-ice areas. Ben Dalke, who played in Virden for four years and captained the team last winter, said:
“I loved playing for Troy because he cared about developing his players on the ice as well as their development as people, while still being passionate about winning game in and game out.”
Leslie said that it was a thrill to be able to coach in Virden. The married father of two is grateful for the experiences that it provided for his daughter and son, including the opportunity to participate in performing arts activities.
“It was a great place to have my first Junior A experience. The fan base has always been great,” said Leslie who also expressed appreciation for the corporate partners over the years.
Hodson said that there is no set timeline to hire a new coach and general manager. He stated the organization wants to do its due diligence.
“It is going to be tough shoes to fill,” Hodson said. “Troy did a terrific job with this hockey club from the beginning. ... I think we have to find an individual who is going to bring a lot of enthusiasm and some vigor to the organization both on and off the ice.”
The Oil Caps are looking for someone who can lead a top calibre team and develop players. They also want someone who will be involved in the community and can handle a Junior A budget.
In the time period between head coaches, Hodson said the team will lean on such people as head scout Brian Elder for the upcoming bantam draft, assistant coach Tyson Ramsey, scout and team consultant Marc Berry, and himself.
The Oil Capitals are also looking for a new athletic therapist and equipment manager. Hailee Dayman is leaving to further her career. Dayman expressed her appreciation for the team’s staff, board, and players.
“You have allowed me to learn and grow as an athletic therapist, and I will be forever grateful for the past two years working with you all. Good luck next season,” she wrote on social media.
Hodson said the team wished her all the best.