Tri-City Americans part with head coach Kelly Buchberger after three seasons

Tri-City Americans
Image credit: Rob Murray via @TCAmericans, Twitter

KENNEWICK, Wash. — In light of the team’s second consecutive losing season, the Tri-City Americans decided not to renew the contract of head coach Kelly Buchberger ahead of the 2021-22 WHL season.

A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Edmonton Oilers, Buchberger has been in coaching since the 2005-06 season. He returned to the Oilers organization within various coaching capacities over several years before getting hired as an assistant with the New York Islanders in 2017. He was named the head coach of the Tri-City Americans in 2018 and finished his Ams career with a 38.7% win percentage (58-80-9 record overall).

Tri-City Americans General Manager Bob Tory made the announcement on Monday morning and provided a brief statement regarding Buchberger’s tenure with the team.

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“We would like to thank Kelly for the three years that he spent with our hockey club and wish him nothing but the best in his future hockey endeavors,” Tory stated.

The 2018-19 season was Buchberger’s first as a coach in the Western Hockey League. This should be an attractive coaching vacancy for prospective hires with the Americans jumping up to the No. 2 pick in this year’s WHL Draft Lottery.

After two consecutive shortened seasons caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHL is set to return for a full 68-game slate in the 2021-22 season as pandemic restrictions are loosened. A longer season will help a young team like the Americans get acclimated to this level of competition while making improvements over the course of a full season.

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