Mark Ferner was busy packing up the last of the belongings from his Everett apartment into a U-Haul in preparation for a nasty winter drive to Vernon Thursday morning.
With the Coquihalla Highway conditions dicey at best, the 47-year-old Ferner opted for the longer, safer Princeton route. Whether he needed it or not, the extended drive gave him a little more time to digest his release as head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips earlier this week.
Ferner, who guided the BCHL Vernon Vipers to consecutive RBC Cup national Junior A titles in 2009-10, plus a third straight finals appearance a year later, was fired by Everett GM Garry Davidson after guiding the Tips to a 16-24-0-2 record, last place in the Western Conference.
However, Ferner’s departure had less to do with the Silvertips’ standings and more to do with a difference in hockey philosophies with Davidson, who was brought in from the Portland Winterhawks last February to replace Doug Soetart, who hired Ferner.
After carving out a 15-year pro career as a stay-at-home defenceman, Ferner, a Buffalo Sabres draft in 1983, employs a defence-first approach, whereas Davidson is known to favour more of an offence-oriented style.
“When Doug Soetart was let go and Garry Davidson was brought in…(it’s) in the back of your mind that he’s going to want his own guys,” said Ferner, who was let go along with assistant coach Chris Hartsburg.
“This doesn’t mean we’re bad people, this doesn’t mean we’re bad coaches. It’s just a difference in philosophy. This isn’t going to deter me from doing what I want to do. I will coach again, I’m just not sure when or where.”
Ferner, who was in season two of a three-year contract with Everett, has no immediate plans other than to return to Vernon and spend time with wife Jody and son Mac, who plays Junior B with the North Okanagan Knights.
“I’ll come home and get to watch my kid play hockey, which will be a real good thing for me,” said Ferner. “It’s going to be important to spend some family time, but the one thing I do want to do is coach.”