Just mere hours after the relief of Cougars Head Coach Richard Matvichuk, it’s evident fans feel for the team’s 12th coach in franchise history.
The outpouring of support over social media is something unlike the norm, the usual being a slew of negative winded comments. Fans overlooking the team’s dire situation, focusing on his character as a person rather than his overall success as a coach in Prince George.
As a former employee of the Prince George Cougars social media team, I can honestly say after the Cougars relieved Mark Holick of his duties in 2016, there were a lot of vulgar things being shared online.
It’s relatively clear why fans feel for Coach Matvichuk, he brought the city the Franchise’s 1st division title in 2016-17, and has been active in the community helping out local charities, and has not only been active in minor hockey but also in minor baseball.
Leaving fans calling him “a real gentleman.”
All mediums have been very active for fans voicing their opinion including Rob Connelly, a Cougars fan who regularly attends games and feels for Matvichuk in the given situation.
sad to see @matti2424 go, great coach, even better person. didnt have much to work with this season, not sure how they could have expected anything more!
— Rob Connelly (@Pghabsfan) February 7, 2019
Furthermore, Connelly was enlightened by Matvichuk’s gestures when his son was given the opportunity to read the team’s starting lineup earlier this season but did acknowledge “its a results based business”
Lecia Lemae commented on a Cougars facebook post:
“One of the toughest jobs with not a lot of praise on every level a person may coach. I myself and my son know what a great coach he is with kids of all ages in hockey and baseball.”
Some even going as far as sticking up for the Edmonton-native, Karl Stern commenting on the same Facebook post saying:
“Bad move I say, he was a good coach. I think they should’ve made at least one deal at the deadline to help the team out”
It’s just the tip of the iceberg in the online opinion though, comments are continuing to come in through all forms of social media tied to the Cougars.
Prince George celebrity Chuck Chin put out an emotional response over his facebook to the teams move:
“Sad to hear that Richard Matvichuk has been relieved of his coaching duties with the PG Cougars. I personally don’t know him but each time Sue and I met and chatted with him, he was a gentleman. I can’t thank him enough for thanking me on several occasions about photo coverage of the Cougars, and one specific moment, the coverage on the tribute night to the Broncos/Brock Hirsche last April. It means a lot.
Thank you Richard for your time, and for guiding the boys along and captured the Cougars first ever BC Division banner. Sue and I want to wish you and your family nothing but the best as you/family move forward in life”
Fraser Rodgers, the team’s manager of communications and play-by-play voice said he’s not surprised with the comments being shared, adding fans are focused on Richard as a person.
Matvichuk’s combined record between the regular season and playoffs finishes in Prince George at (87-93-12-10) in 202 games behind the bench.
Fans are not thinking about the team’s lack of success under Matvichuk, seemingly remembering him as more than just the Cougars Head Coach. Remembering him as one of their community.
General Manager Mark Lamb now holds the reigns behind the bench as well as in the office, the team adding Director of Player Development Nick Drazenovic as an Assistant Coach with Steve O’Rourke staying as an Associate Coach.
The Cougars are back in action Friday night in Kelowna as they look to end an 11 game losing streak.