One of the biggest offseason questions for the Erie Otters has been answered.
The team has agreed to new two-year contracts with their entire coaching staff including head coach Chris Hartsburg, associate coach B.J. Adams and assistant coach Wes Wolfe the Hockey Writers has learned. Signs have been pointing to this outcome all season. Now they will have a chance to continue what they’ve started.
Hartsburg Has Support
Hartsburg will enter his fourth season with the Otters after taking over for Kris Knoblauch the season after their OHL Championship victory. While his teams missed the playoffs in his first two seasons, Hartsburg helped lead the Otters back to a playoff spot before the season was canceled due to Covid-19.
Hartsburg has the support of GM Dave Brown. Brown spoke to us recently about the state of the team including how he thinks Hartsburg has performed.
Earlier in the season, Brown said that he didn’t foresee any in-season coaching changes. The Otters played a majority of their season without a full lineup due to a crazy list of injuries. Yet they found a way to get into a playoff spot. Brown believes that Hartsburg can get this team to the next level in future seasons.
Adams & Wolfe Well Respected
Adams will be entering his sixth season with the Otters in 2020-21. He was brought on as an assistant coach under Knoblauch in July 2015. He was promoted to associate coach in the summer of 2017 and has been in that position since.
Adams does most of the work with the defense and penalty kill. They realized a dramatic improvement this past season finishing as one of the OHL’s top teams on the PK after being one of the worst teams the season before. Hartsburg believes that it is only a matter of time before Adams himself becomes a head coach. He has a lot of respect amongst his players and his peers and will continue to help the Otters back to championship form.
Wolfe enters his fifth season with the Otters in 2020-21. He does a lot of things for the team most notably in player development. With an analytical background, Wolfe brings an impressive skill set to the team helping with player growth. He also created and operates the Niagara Hockey Coaches Seminar that see over 80 coaches from over 50 hockey organizations get together to share best practices in growing players. He is an up and coming rising star in the coaching ranks.
The Otters have not announced this news yet but you can expect a formal announcement coming soon. We will update this post as soon as all of the details become available.
UPDATE: The team has announced this is official. Here is what GM Dave Brown said about the new contracts.
“Coaching can no longer be measured solely on wins and losses, as development on and off the ice at the OHL level has become imperative, and I appreciate the diligent efforts all three coaches have put forth each day in the past three seasons,” said Brown. “Their execution of the development plan for our players, while sticking to our organizational goals and objectives will no doubt return the organization to prominence. Coaching isn’t just about X’s and O’s. Coaching includes mentoring, nurturing, and parenting while sneaking in their systems and expectations, all the while trying to develop the player’s skill level. I think this staff does an exceptional job of executing this daily, and I look forward to working with our coaches as we continue to work towards our next major organizational accomplishment.”
Team owner Jim Waters also had this to say about the new contracts.
“I am extremely pleased that we have been able to agree on contract extensions with our entire coaching staff,” Otters owner, governor and president Jim Waters said. “The development of our players, under the guidance of Chris, BJ and Wes, has been steady and resulted in making the playoffs this past season. I firmly believe that together with our general manger, Dave Brown, this leadership group can take the Erie Otters to the next level of success.”
We will continue to update as new details emerge.