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By Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury
When it comes to choosing a coach, it’s all about the right person at the right time.
If it was all about talent or experience Scotty Bowman would never have left the St. Louis Blues, Mike Babcock would still be in San Jose and Alain Vigneault would still be coaching at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The Guelph Storm has decided Scott Walker is the right man for this time, inking him to a two-year contract extension on Friday.
His experience, skills and, perhaps most of all, his disposition are the right fit for a young team learning how to be better.
When Walker went into this Ontario Hockey League season without a contract extension, it was assumed the team wasn’t sure Walker was the man. Cynics wondered if he wasn’t just keeping the bench warm until Bill Stewart had served his penance and was able to take over the head coaching reins.
Those questions have been answered.
But it’s a two-way street. Plain and simple, when Walker joined the team last year he wasn’t sure he wanted to sign up for the long term.
Remember, there was no master plan in place when Walker showed up one day to lend a hand at Jason Brooks’s practices.
And when the job was offered him, he wasn’t sure he wanted a longer contract when he first signed up to coach the Storm. He had no coaching experience and hadn’t been around junior hockey since his own playing days.
After a 16-year National Hockey League career, one assumes there might have been other coaching opportunities for Walker at some level of hockey. Maybe a head coaching gig in the minors, maybe an assistant coaching position at the NHL level. A man who plays that long in the show has a few contacts, and a man with Walker’s gregarious disposition is going to have his fair share of supporters.
But Walker chose to return home to Cambridge. His reasons are his, but it would be safe to assume that after 16 years of professional hockey, the thought of planting roots and balancing the family-time ledger with his wife and two young children may have had something to do with it.