NORTH BAY, Ont. – Stan Butler has signed a five-year contract extension as director of hockey operations and head coach of the North Bay Battalion, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Wednesday.
Butler, a 57-year-old Toronto native, is the only person to hold those positions in the history of the organization, embarking on its first season in North Bay after 15 years in Brampton.
“Five years is a long time, but (owner) Scott Abbott and I have developed a good longterm relationship,” Butler said after overseeing fitness testing on the opening day of training camp.
“It was a big decision for me to come to North Bay, and to his credit Scott gave me the security you need when you’re making those kinds of commitments in your life.”
Abbott said he’s pleased to have Butler guiding the organization’s hockey department as it makes the move to Northern Ontario.
“No one in the Canadian Hockey League has a greater mind for the game or consideration for the young men playing it at our level than does Stan,” said Abbott.
“We’re extremely fortunate that he has signed on to carry the Battalion tradition to North Bay. This is an exciting time for the franchise and one that holds great promise for the future, both on the ice and off.
“Stan and I have a strong relationship, and I’m very happy that he has the helm of hockey operations, reporting directly to me.”
Butler oversees a coaching staff that includes assistants Ryan Oulahen and John Goodwin and goaltending coach Rob Beatty.
“We have good stability here,” noted Butler. “We hope to put a competitive product on the ice on a yearly basis. I’m excited about this situation here in North Bay. The people here have responded really well to our team.”
Butler, who previously has worked under a series of four four-year contracts, joined the Battalion a year before the club’s inaugural season of 1998-99, scouting for the both the Expansion Draft and 1998 OHL Priority Selection. He has guided the Troops to a won-lost-tied record of 468-500-52.
Since joining the Central Division for the 2002-03 season, the Battalion has won the division title four times, in 2002-03, 2005-06, 2007-08 and 2008-09. In that season, the Troops captured their first Eastern Conference crown and advanced to the OHL Championship Series, in which they lost to the Windsor Spitfires in five games.
Butler is credited with 125 playoff games, third among active coaches, and has compiled a postseason won-lost mark of 51-74.
The OHL’s longest-tenured coach, Butler started his major junior career with two seasons behind the bench of the Oshawa Generals in 1994-95 and 1995-96 before spending one season as head coach of the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League.
He is credited with 1,152 OHL games coached, fourth on the all-time list behind Brian Kilrea, Bert Templeton and Larry Mavety. Butler has an all-time OHL won-lost-tied record of 538-549-65 and is seventh on the career wins list, one behind Peter DeBoer.
“I love the OHL; it’s a great league,” said Butler. “I think I contribute a lot at the league level. I’m on the competition committee and I’ve been involved with the Canada-Russia series for a number of years.
“I enjoy my job. My mother told me when I was young that it didn’t matter what you did in life as long as you did something you enjoy. Hockey is a tough business, and I’m thankful I’ve been able to keep my head above water for a long time.”
Among those reporting to training camp was centre Blake Clarke, the Battalion’s first-round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection. He has been named as one of eight OHLers among 40 players invited to the CCM-USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 26 at Pittsburgh.
The Battalion opens a five-game exhibition schedule at 2 p.m. Sunday against the host Kitchener Rangers. The Troops start their regular season on the road against the Kingston Frontenacs on Sept. 20 and are to entertain the Peterborough Petes in the home opener Oct. 11.