Todd Miller became best friends with Dale Hawerchuk over nine seasons as he was an assistant coach for the Barrie Colts, as Dale was the head coach from 2011 to 2019.
Miller joined Barrie in the 2010-2011 season after a professional career which included stints in the ECHL and Germany. Miller and Dale shared the Colts bench for the final time in the 2018-2019 season.
A veteran of more than 1250 games, Miller says he was extremely lucky that he was given a chance to coach alongside Hawerchuk.
“It was free education every day having that guy around, he taught me a ton,” said Miller. “It was tremendous being by his side for nine years. I thought I knew the game until I met him.”
Hawerchuk, who became the face of the Winnipeg Jets passed away on August 18 after a battle with cancer. He recorded 518 goals and 1,409 points in 1,188 regular-season NHL games. He also had another 99 playoff points in 97 games.
“That was extremely emotional when he passed away,” said Miller. “To go back to the office and not have him at the rink, that was tough. He was such a great man and he will forever be missed.”
Wheat City bound:
Brandon announced that Don MacGillivray would take over as head coach back on November 24 when Dave Lowry signed with the Winnipeg Jets. Don confirmed at that time that the organization was looking to fill its coaching staff which includes Tyler Plante as goaltending coach and Mark Derlago as an assistant coach.
As the new WHL season continues to inch closer, Brandon has filled its coaching staff. The Wheat Kings announced on Friday that they have hired Miller as an assistant coach and they also brought on Daniel Johnston as a video coach, a first in franchise history.
Don reached out to Todd and the rest is history as the former Barrie Colt assistant coach is now a part of the Wheat Kings coaching staff.
“We have a lot of common friends, Don and I,” continued Miller. “It was an easy fit for me and Don was looking for someone with experience. I’m very glad to join this team.”
Miller took over as head coach in Barrie in January of 2020 when the club parted ways with Warren Rychel. In his short time as bench boss, Todd led Barrie to a 13-7-2 record and they finished second in the OHL’s Central Division.
The new season is slated to begin on January 8 and Brandon will only compete against East Division opponents. The biggest thing Todd figures he will have to get used to is the travel schedule. Being in Barrie, the longest trip was about six hours. Although the travel schedule won’t be as extensive for Brandon this season playing just division opponents.
“I can’t wait to get to Brandon, I’m planning on getting to town right after Christmas,” said Miller. “I’ll get my feet wet this year when it comes to travel. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to this new opportunity with a storied franchise.”
Todd defines himself as a push the pace kind of coach.
“Pace was the biggest thing that I preached to my players in Barrie,” ended Miller. “We had some success last year because we moved the puck quickly and efficiently.”
From Calgary, Daniel played 253 games in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Daniel called it quits on his playing days following the 2017-2018 season which brought an end to his five-year career in the ECHL.
As noted above, Daniel has become Brandon’s first-ever video coach and on a release on wheatkings.com, he had this to say.
“I’m excited to be coming to Brandon,” says Johnston. “I’m just retiring from playing and I’ve been video coaching with players over the last year, so this opportunity felt like a perfect fit for me,” said Johnston. “I remember Brandon well from my playing days; it was a tough building to play in on the road. I consider it one of the model organizations in the WHL so I couldn’t be happier to get the chance to join this club”.