Former ICE coach lands bench boss gig

Gord Burnett’s hockey playing career came to an end after the 2012-13 season.

Prior to that, he played 220 games over five seasons in the ECHL. He also played in the CHL and NCAA.

With his passion for hockey, Gord wasn’t ready to stop being around the game after his playing days.

He became an Assistant Coach for the Arizona Sundogs in the 2013-14 season, spending one season there before moving on to the University of Notre Dame.

In the 2015-16 season, Burnett headed to Kootenay where he served as an assistant coach for the ICE for four seasons.

Burnett also returned to his home province several times to coach Team Saskatchewan at various tournaments. The most notable tournament was when he was the head coach for the team at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

With all that in the past, Gord is officially a full-time head coach for the first time in his life. The Winnipeg Blues, who are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, has hired Burnett to become their bench boss in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

50 Below Sports + Entertainment also own the Winnipeg ICE.

Back in Saskatchewan for the summer, Burnett is excited to relocate to Winnipeg in the fall.

“I’m really excited about it. I’ve been an assistant coach for seven years now, and it’s time for me to be a head coach,” said Burnett. “It’s time for me to run my own program and teach the kids the way I think they should be taught. It’s an exciting time, and I’m really looking forward to getting it going.”

For the past two years in Kootenay, Burnett worked under the current ownership group, which includes Matt Cockell.

After learning from them for two years, Gord knows he has what it takes to make a splash with his new team.

“I worked with some really good coaches in Kootenay, and although you didn’t see the success in the standings, we saw these young kids get better every day,” added Burnett. “I learned a lot with that organization, and I’m looking forward to using what I learned with Winnipeg.”

The last time Winnipeg won the MJHL was in the 2013-14 season. They went 31-23-3-3 in the regular season. From there, they lost just three playoff games and won 14.

Although they haven’t won a league title since then, Winnipeg is always known as a contender. Since that title season, the organization has gone 159-104-16-21. They have also made the playoffs in each seasons and won at least 31 regular season games in four out of the last five.

Gord isn’t the only new member of the Winnipeg Blues front office. After they were purchased by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, they hired Taras McEwen to become their general manager.

Now the group is hard at work preparing for the upcoming season.

“There is a lot of recruiting involved, and Taras takes care of that side,” said Burnett. “We’re going to be traditionally a lot younger than the rest of the league. That’s how we’re approaching it and we’ll see how it goes.”

“As long as our younger, skilled, and hungry guys are ready to compete, we should be fine,” he added.

When Winnipeg opens up their season on September 20, they will certainly be in tough. They make the trip to Stride Place to take on the defending league champion Portage Terriers. Portage is expected to be very strong this year once again, as they will host the National Jr. A Championship.

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    Darnell Duff

    Gord Burnett’s hockey playing career came to an end after the 2012-13 season. Prior to that, he played 220 games over five seasons in the ECHL He also
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