Derek Stuart, the newest head coach and general manager of the Kimberley Dynamiters, is going to have some familiar help when it comes to carrying on the culture instilled by recently-retired coach Jerry Bancks.
The 39-year-old Stuart — who was brought in May 9 to succeed Bancks — announced the hiring of Jeff Keiver and Byron Garrels as assistant coaches Wednesday afternoon.
Both Keiver and Garrels served under Bancks during the Dynamiters run to the KIJHL’s 2015-16 regular season title. After Bancks announced his retirement, Keiver also said he was going to walk away from the bench to focus on life outside hockey, while Garrels’ status remained up in the air with Stuart coming in as the new shot-caller.
All of that changed Wednesday.
“With Jeff [Keiver] being my cousin, it was easy to get him back,” said Stuart, a former assistant coach with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. “He was excited and honoured to be back. His heart is in this team. It’s going to be fun working with him.
“Byron, I just met two weeks ago. He’s a nice guy and seems very knowledgeable. It helps me be more comfortable having two guys to carry forward Jerry’s culture from last year.”
Keiver, 36, bleeds Dynamiters red and black, having suited up for the club during its Rocky Mountain Junior A days and grown up in Kimberley, being taught by Bancks during grade school.
Garrels, 31, was initially hired by Mike Reid, former general manager and new vice-president, on Aug. 10, 2015. Born in Red Deer, Garrels calls Kimberley home and has so since moving to the East Kootenay from Cambridge Bay, N.W.T., during ninth grade.
Like Keiver, Garrels also spent time as a player with the Dynamiters, donning the Kimberley boomstick on his chest from 2001-02 through 2002-03 before moving on to the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves and Brooks Bandits of the AJHL.
Stuart visited Kimberley for the Dynamiters annual general meeting in mid-May and was recently in town scouting out potential homes as he prepares to make the move to the East Kootenay by early August. It was during this time he firmed up things with both Keiver and Garrels, scratching one item off a very long off-season to-do list.
Having seen the departure of captain Jason Richter, veterans Jared Marchi, Eric Buckley, Jordan Busch, Keenan Haase, Justin Meier and Tyson Brouwer, as well as rookie workhorse defenceman George Bertoia, Stuart is still tasked with recruiting and replenishing his roster’s depth before the puck drops on the 2016-17 KIJHL campaign.