In a move that sent shockwaves around Canada West, Adam Shell has departed as head coach of the UBC men's hockey program after just 384 days at the helm.
The 2016-17 season looked promising for the UBC Thunderbirds, who wound up with one of their more impressive recruit classes in recent seasons. In the months leading up to training camp, the vibe out of the UBC men's hockey program was one of positivity, excitement, and anxiousness for the new season. But just days into camp, the balance of the men's hockey program has been turned upside down.
With neither Adam Shell nor the UBC Thunderbirds available for further comment, there's a lot we don't know about what happened in the last week that lead to Shell's departure. But here's what we do know.
This move caught many off guard within the league. A strong recruit class and high expectations laid down by Adam Shell made it appear he was set to lead the Thunderbirds to a run at the playoffs in 2016-17. Well-liked by many of his colleagues and players, no one anticipated Shell would be leaving this close to the start of the regular season.
Some people from Canada West believe Shell was coaching the Thunderbirds as recently as last week Friday, August 26th. If this was the case, then the situation developed very quickly over the weekend into Monday. Details on what happens next for Adam Shell have yet to emerge, but if he's to land another coaching job in the CIS, it's hard to imagine he'll latch on with a program this close to the start of the regular season.
Until further notice, Shell's CIS coaching career will be put on pause at nine seasons, eight of which were spent with the RMC Paladins. A former defenceman for the McGill Redmen, Shell inherited one of the league's most difficult programs to coach at RMC, and managed to consistently raise the bar for the Paladins for eight seasons until he moved on to the head coaching position at UBC for 2015-16.
The departure comes at an awkward time for UBC, who were just embarking on their training camp, and are about to have their fourth different head coach in as many seasons. Now more than ever, the statement from former UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz after his departure in 2015 echoes around the league.
"ALL student athletes, coaches and staff at UBC must be appreciated and supported. Nobody should be treated with such ignorance and disrespect as my hockey program, players, and staff were in the past two years. I knew being relegated to tier 3 hybrid would be a financial challenge that we could overcome. What I did not know is that we would be considered irrelevant to the university and it's absent leadership" - Tyler Kuntz (courtesy the Ubyssey)
Some believe that differentiating viewpoints from recently appointed UBC Athletic Director Gilles Lepine may have contributed as a factor, but until either Adam Shell or UBC come forward, it's all speculation. The picture painted by Tyler Kuntz is not a pretty one for UBC, and coupled together with Shell's mysterious departure after just a season, UBC's image isn't getting any better.
In the meantime, assistant coach Sven Butenschon will take over on an interim basis, and the men's hockey team will attempt to carry on business as usual. UBC opens their season on October 7th, against the Saskatchewan Huskies.
Written by: Victor Findlay (@Finder_24)