On Tuesday, the Moose Jaw Warriors announced the signing of new assistant coach Gord Burnett for the upcoming 2020-21 Western Hockey League season. The 39-year-old Regina, SK. product accepted the position to serve on the Warriors’ bench alongside head coach Mark O’Leary and fellow assistant coach Scott King.
Burnett spent the 2019-20 season as the head coach of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Winnipeg Blues. Prior to that he spent four years as an assistant with the former Kootenay ICE, who shifted him to the head coaching role within their farm club after relocating to Winnipeg last year. With the Blues, Burnett went 24-29-7, narrowly clinching a berth in the 2020 postseason prior to the league-wide COVID-19 shutdown.
“This is an opportunity for Gord to move to the next level and we are very excited for him,” Blues general manager Taras McEwen said in a team-issued press release. “Anytime a player, coach, or member of your staff is able to move to the next level it is something that we are excited to celebrate as an organization… We will take some time to evaluate the current position and be patient with the process of naming a new head coach.”
Now, in moving back to his home province of Saskatchewan, Burnett – a former Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League player with the Melville Millionaires and Notre Dame Hounds – will look to bring his vast collection of playing/coaching knowledge to a team filled with Manitoban skaters. Amongst the nine Manitoba-born players on the 2019-20 Warriors squad were up-and-coming stars Eric Alarie (Winnipeg), Calder Anderson (Brandon) and Daemon Hunt (Brandon).
In his playing career, Burnett put up 12 goals, 36 points and 277 penalty minutes in four years of NCAA hockey with the College of St. Scholastica Saints, before splitting the next seven seasons between the CHL and ECHL, where he combined for six goals, 41 points and a whopping 974 penalty minutes in 307 total games.
Following the conclusion of his playing career, Burnett joined the staff of the CHL’s Arizona Sundogs for two seasons, before re-joining the NCAA as an assistant with the University of Notre Dame. He has since served within the WHL as well as representing the province of Saskatchewan a number of times as head coach of the 2019 Saskatchewan U16 team at the Canada Games, as well as filling the role of assistant coach with Team Saskatchewan at the 2016 running of the WHL Cup.
“We are very pleased to add Gord Burnett to our coaching staff as a full-time Assistant Coach,” Warriors general manager Alan Millar said in a team-issued press release. “Gord brings very good experience to our team from his time in Kootenay, this past season as a head coach in the MJHL, and his playing experience as a defenceman… I feel very confident that this coaching staff led by Mark O’Leary, with assistants Scott King and Gord, will build strong relationships with our players and will have a good development model to make them better players and better people.”
“Gord brings high energy and passion for the game,” commented Moose Jaw Head Coach Mark O’Leary in the release. “He’s a great communicator with experience developing players in our league. Scott and I are excited to work with Gord to create an environment for the team and the players to take a big step this season.”