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Men’s hockey shuffles bench responsibilities

Belliveau to concentrate more on business operations


Wendell Vye. Photo by Rob Grandy.
Wendell Vye. Photo by Rob Grandy.

Rumours may have suggested otherwise, but Tigers head coach Pete Belliveau is staying put with the men’s hockey program, even as his job description sees a few changes.

Dalhousie Athletics announced Dec. 16 that Belliveau would begin focusing more of his time on the business aspect of the operation and general manager tasks, while assistant coach Chris Donnelly will take on additional coaching responsibilities. Belliveau will be a “delegate on-ice authority” to Donnelly, according to the press release.

At 56 years of age and 20 years of CIS coaching experience to his credit, Belliveau told the Gazette he wanted to try something different.

“I’ve noticed every year that I’m getting more and more ideas for fundraising, and I just thought it was time.

“I’m at the point where I want to focus more on the business side of things.”

Speculation about Belliveau’s future was heightened beyond Twitter chatter when a Chronicle Herald article suggested the Tigers would replace their four-year head coach. The article was published the morning of Dec. 16, 2011.

This shuffling was proposed by Belliveau last week, with approval from his coaching staff. Dal athletic director John MacDonald endorsed the idea in a Dec. 16 meeting.

MacDonald said that the men’s hockey program has more off-ice responsibilities than other university sports because of the immense financial commitment needed—the team fundraises over $350,000 annually. By reducing Belliveau’s coaching obligation, MacDonald said, it will enable the Tigers to profit from the veteran coach’s expertise off the ice, particularly during the busy winter months.

Dal’s poor record may have influenced Belliveau’s decision to reorganize the responsibilities of his coaching staff, suggested MacDonald, although he did not want to speculate much further.

“I think it impacted on him to come up with the proposal and this other option. [This season] was weighing on him. It’s a tough league,” he said.

This announcement comes at the midway point of what has been a dismal campaign for Dal, although they have been beset by numerous injuries to critical players. The Tigers hold a league-worst 2-11-1 record and are currently stuck in an 11-game losing streak. The team also sports a league-low 30 goals and have conceded a league-high 78.

Despite Belliveau maintaining the ‘head coach’ title, assistant coach Chris Donnelly will take on a greater role behind the bench. The ex-Mooseheads assistant of the past 11 years joined the university last spring.

Belliveau said there would also be changes in the duties of assistant Paul Boutilier and goaltending coach Joe Johnston.

“I said, ‘Jesus, this would be a good opportunity to give my other coaches a try,’” said Belliveau, adding he first considered the change in October.

Discussions are still in the preliminary stages as to what this rearrangement will entail, including contract details, but Belliveau insists everything will be finalized by the team’s first regular season game after the holiday break on Jan. 6.

The press release confirmed that Belliveau would remain under contract until Apr. 30, 2015. He signed a five-year contract extension in 2010 after leading Dal to their first playoff appearance in seven seasons.

Before joining Dal in 2008, Belliveau brought national success to Moncton and Lakehead, most notably claiming the University Cup in 1995.

Ian Froese
Ian Froese
Ian was the Gazette's Editor-in-chief for Volume 146. He was the Sports Editor for Volumes 145 and 144.

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