The Brandon Wheat Kings didn’t have to look far to find their new General Manager.
Long time player and staff member Darren Ritchie was named the club’s 12th General Manager on Friday morning.
Ritchie, who joined the Wheat Kings as a player in 1992 has worn many hats with the club including Assistant Coach and Director of Scouting has spent a total of 16 years as a part of the black and gold organization.
“Darren has been a Wheat King for sixteen years and no one understands better what our organization is about.”
Ritchie’s 152 goals as a Wheat King has him 7th in franchise history in that category. He also lead the team in scoring during the 1994/1995 season with 114 points.
After his playing career in Brandon ended, Ritchie spent nine seasons, playing pro hockey in both Europe and North America before returning to the Wheat City as an Assistant Coach to McCrimmon, capped off with the 2016 Ed Chynoweth Cup Championship.
“I’m excited, proud and humbled to have this opportunity,” said Ritchie. “I’ve been a part of this organization for a long time and feel I am a Wheat King through and through. I’m honored to be the GM.”
Since that 2016 Championship title, the Wheat Kings have seen plenty of fresh faces in new roles. After three years with David Anning and Grant Armstrong at the helm, both were let go in May, giving Ritchie a clean slate to work with heading into training camp.
“We need to make a decision regarding the coaches real soon here,” said Ritchie. “We will need to hire a Director of Scouting as well. I plan to talk to all our returning players this week and let them know what we expect of them when the show up to camp.”
In the three years as Director of Scouting, Ritchie and his staff have put together a deep prospects pool that includes Ridly Greig, Ben McCartney, Jake Chiasson and dozens of others. The top three selections from this past May’s Bantam Draft have all committed to the club moving forward, something the staff feel is a positive sign.
“We’re going to be an exciting team to watch moving forward. I want us to be fast, hard-working and skilled. We have been fortunate to have a lot of good teams over the years and we want to get back to that and get back into the playoffs.”
-Discussion with both import selections Marcus Kallionkielli and Vladislav Firstov have begun but there is no timeline on their decisions.
-The tentative plan is to have a Head Coach in place in the next two weeks.
-Training camp will begin August 28th.