After one season behind the bench of the Vernon Vipers, associate coach Kris Mallette has accepted an assistant coach position with the Kelowna Rockets.
“It has never been when, it has always been a it’s only a matter of time,” said Mallette.
Mallette returns to the organization he played for as a young man 18 years ago.
“100 per cent my dream job,” said Mallette.
Mallette’s departure caught Vipers’ GM/head coach Jason Williamson by surprise.
“He called me up late yesterday and told me the news. It’s great news for him. It is his ultimate goal and I am excited for him,” said Williamson. “Our goal here is always to move people along, players and coaches.”
Mallette, previously coached the North Okanagan Knights in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League before working with the Vipers last season.
Over two seasons as head coach of the Knights, he guided North Okanagan to a 69-30-2-3 record, culminating in an appearance in the league final against the Castlegar Rebels in late March. He was named KIJHL Coach of the Year.
Mallette, a Kelowna native, signed a three-year deal with the Rockets. The contract has relieved some pressure on the home front.
“My wife won’t have to worry about me driving that highway five days a week now. The 15-minute commute is going to be nice,” said Mallette, 35.
Mallette, a former Philadelphia Flyers’ draft pick, has been a class act throughout his professional career.
“The Vipers are a classy organization and well run with lots of success. I met a lot of good people last year,” said Mallette. “I want to express heartfelt gratitude to Duncan Wray and the organization of the Vipers for allowing me to coach there.”
Mallette’s absence leaves the Snakes with a gaping hole behind the bench following Dave Robinson’s departure earlier this spring.
“The search is just starting. We have a couple of guys in mind we are going to go after,” said Williamson.