The Silvertips announced a stunner this evening with the news that general manager Doug Soetaert has been fired.
Soetaert was Everett’s general manager when the team began play in 2003 and has been in that role ever since, with the exception of the 2005-06 season when he was hired away to be the general manager of the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate in Omaha. Under his direction Everett won three U.S. Division titles, a Western Conference championship and a Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record. However, all of those came in 2007 or earlier, and the Tips are in the midst of their worst season in franchise history at 12-30-1-8 and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time.
Gary Gelinas, the team’s president, said the decision was made because Soetaert’s contract was expiring at the end of the season and the team determined it was time for a new direction. He said the organization was not happy with the team’s slide into mediocrity in recent years, and that he felt new leadership was needed to return the Tips to a position of prominence in the WHL. The move was made now rather than at the end of the season so that the Tips could get a new general manager in place as soon as possible. Gelinas said the best-case scenario would be to have a new GM before the end of the season, but that it was more important to find the right person than to make that deadline.
Gelinas said the organization was happy with the rest of the front office and head coach Mark Ferner, so no other changes are expected in those areas for the time being.
I have not been able to get a hold of Soetaert for comment yet.
I’m saddened by this news as I enjoyed working with Soetaert, and I’m stunned by the timing. I’m perhaps less stunned that Soetaert was let go as I had an inkling that ownership was getting a little antsy. Soetaert did some incredible work building the Tips into a quality organization in a location where people scoffed at the idea of junior hockey being successful. It’s too bad it had to end like this.
Here’s wishing the best to Doug going forward.