New head coach for Haliburton Wolves
By Darren Lum
The Wolves have a new alpha to lead the pack after 15 games in its inaugural season.
Haliburton’s Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League Wolves officially ended its relationship with head
coach Walt McKechnie when it announced Josh Shaw will replace him this past Friday.
This decision ends McKechnie’s “gentleman’s agreement” to coach the team for this season,
according to its owner Stephane Laveault.
McKechnie was called by the team’s owner Laveault following the Wolves’ 13-1 loss at home to the
South Muskoka Shield this past Thursday.
Laveault publicly thanked Wolves’ assistant coach Rick Wood, who will also no longer be with the team,
and McKechnie for their “outstanding job for the first 15 games of the season.”
“It’s just time to go in a new direction. It was time to bring some fresh new ideas and to help the team
move forward,” he said.
This was something he and management were talking about for a week.
“We just felt now was the time to do it,” he said.
The team’s head of hockey operations Darryl Porter had been interim coach for the team’s past three
games because McKechnie was serving a three-game suspension.
The team is sixth in the 10-team North division and near the bottom of the league with a 4-11-0
record when the decision was announced.
McKechnie did not respond about the team’s decision when he was reached for comment.
Laveault wants more discipline.
“The message wasn’t getting through as good as it should be and we thought a new voice could [bring
the message] and reinforce what we’ve been saying since day one,” he said, referring to the discipline
of the team in not taking penalties and suspensions.
“It’s been way too many suspensions for 15 games,” he said.
The team had three players serving suspensions prior to last Thursday’s game, he said.
Laveault can’t emphasize enough his respect and gratitude for McKechnie.
“I have a lot of respect for Walt. He is a great guy of hockey. We just wanted to make sure the message
got through [to the team],” he said.
He is thankful to Walt McKechnie for the “outstanding job” and his efforts in getting the team going.
“He is a great hockey guy. I have nothing bad to say about the guy. He is a great guy,” he said.
The team’s newest coach is excited to join the team, believing it is a move up for him in terms of his
coaching career, he said a night before his first game in Gravenhurst.
When asked what he expects to bring to the team, he answered: “Not necessarily a new direction just
change in maybe philosophy a little bit. Just some different systems – power-play, breakout, penalty
kill. Just a different voice”
Shaw said he is a mix of old and new school hockey philosophy.
“We’re going to be a tough team to play against, but we’re not going to be dirty, spend a lot of time in
the box and with the amount of [players] we have, which is not a lot because we have injuries and
suspensions,” he said, referring to the 14 players available to skate.
Realistically, when the team is short, he said, they’ll do what they can to stay competitive.
“We’re not going to be a pretty team. We’re going to trap and save legs for the third period,” he said,
referring to the style of play that employs.
When there is a deep bench he wants to see the team play a “high intensity” game.
Although he can teach fundamentals, he said his forté is working with older players and employing
“I’ve got some weird and funky systems that not a lot of teams have seen,” he said.
Shaw, who grew up in Haliburton, was introduced to the players following the game and was
well-received and each of them introduced themselves to the 32-year-old coach.
“If the kids can follow a system it’s going to be really good I think,” he said.
He played junior A, junior C and two seasons of varsity hockey for Fleming College. He was a co-coach
of the defunct Minden Riverkings of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League and has several years
of coaching experience in minor hockey.
From what Shaw has seen in the few times he has seen the Wolves play, he knows he can work with
“They do care, which is nice. It’s hard sometimes with a team this age between 16 and 20. Sometimes
you get kids that are there just for the hell of it kind of thing ... These guys seem to really care. It’s nice
to see,” he said.