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Posted: Friday, July 29th 2011 at 9:45am

Gladiators narrow coaching candidates

By staff reports
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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DULUTH -- Gwinnett Gladiators president Steve Chapman announced Friday that the candidates for the team's coaching search have been narrowed to three finalists: Steve Weeks, Leigh Mendelson and John Wroblewski.

The organization plans to name their second head coach in team history to replace Jeff Pyle within the next seven days. Pyle was named the head coach of the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League on July 13.

Over the past two weeks, the Gladiators received over 50 inquiries from interested applicants concerning the position. After a detailed preliminary review and screening process, the list was narrowed to about a dozen candidates for phone interviews.

“The sheer number and quality of the applicants was quite impressive,” said Chapman. “It was very difficult to pare the applicants down to a workable number, but that is certainly a good problem to have. It’s also a tribute to the solid reputation established by the Gladiators organization within the professional hockey community to see such a large number of qualified coaches express their interest in leading this team.”

Weeks served as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Thrashers for eight seasons from 2001-2010. Prior to his time with the Thrashers, Weeks spent eight seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes (and previously Hartford Whalers) organization from 1993 to 2001 as an assistant coach and scout. He played 13 NHL seasons from 1980 to 1993 with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders. Prior to turning pro, he played four seasons at Northern Michigan University where he helped the Wildcats to the 1980 “Frozen Four."

Mendelson was an assistant coach with the Utah Grizzlies last year during the 2010-2011 season and he helped the Grizzlies advance to the Western Conference Semifinals before falling to the Victoria Salmon Kings. He served as an interim head coach with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL during the 2009-10 season posting a 7-7-2 record during his time behind the bench. He was also an assistant with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies during the 2001-2002 season.

Wroblewski served as an assistant coach for the Wheeling Nailers last season and helped the Nailers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Head Coach for the United States National Development Team from 2007 – 2010. Wroblewski skated four seasons in the ECHL with the Fresno Falcons from 2003 through 2007 amassing 299 total points during his pro career while also serving as Team Captain in his final two seasons. Before turning pro, Wroblewski played four seasons at the University of Notre Dame from 1999 to 2003 and also served as Team Captain in his final season of collegiate hockey.

“All three candidates bring quality coaching experience and significant leadership abilities to the table,” said Chapman. “Honestly, any one of these three would be great choices.”

Relative to a new affiliation agreement, the Gladiators are in discussions with three separate NHL hockey teams about the possibility of a working relationship. The team hopes to make an announcement on their affiliation plans in the next 2 to 4 weeks.

The Gladiators are members of the ECHL, the Premier “AA” Hockey League and play all home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
Associated Categories: Sports News, Professional Sports

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