The longtime face of the Battalion hockey franchise has taken his coaching talents south of the border.
Erie Otters general manager Dave Brown announced earlier today that the team is set to hire longtime Ontario Hockey League head coach Stan Butler to lead the organization back into championship calibre.
Otters officials say the hiring is contingent upon U.S. immigration approval.
"After an extensive and thorough coaching search, the Erie Otters are proud to announce they’ve agreed to terms for the 10th head coach in team history," an Otters release stated Thursday.
Butler stepped down as head coach and director of hockey operations of the Battalion back on December 10, 2019 and was replaced by current Battalion head coach and Butler's former assistant, Ryan Oulahen.
“It’s quite an honour," said Butler in a release.
"The Erie Otters have a proud tradition as a hockey organization, and having been in the Ontario Hockey League myself for a long time [with the Battalion], we had a very good playoff series with Erie.
“Knowing Dave Brown a long time and [hearing] nothing but good things about Mr. [Jim] Waters as an owner, I’m excited. I’m looking forward to this challenge.
“First, I want to thank Jim Waters for making this type of move possible; Jim and Shelia continue to show their commitment to the Otters organization, our fans, and the City of Erie. Stan has a wealth of knowledge in terms of player development, in-game execution, and understanding of what it takes to get things done in terms of wins and advancing players to the pro level,” said Brown,
“Stan is extremely excited and motivated about the opportunity and future, making it a very exciting time for the organization, our players, staff, families, and loyal fans who have stuck with us.”
See related: Stan Butler out as head coach
Butler returns to the game as a top-five coach in the history of the league for games coached (1,588) and total wins (737), a member of Hockey Canada’s U18 Team and the U20 World Junior Team three times each.
Butler spent 25 seasons as a head coach in the Canadian Hockey League, including 22 consecutive seasons with the Brampton/North Bay Battalion – the longest single-team tenure to date for a coach in OHL history.
Since his debut in the OHL in 1994-95 with the Oshawa Generals, teams led by Butler have qualified for the OHL post-season in 21 of 24 seasons. Between the 2002-03 season and 2013-14 season, Butler’s Battalion won five Central Division titles and made two trips to the J. Ross Robertson Cup Finals.
“For 25 years, I have seen Stan Butler as an opponent, competitor, mentor, and good friend. It is strange yet exciting that we are working together to get the Otters back to the league’s elite,” said Brown in a release,
“Stan is one of the CHL’s elite coaches, and we hope to create a bright future in which we can all share and celebrate in. If there is one thing I have come to learn, there’s nothing better than the sounds of celebrations on French Street, and we look forward to this soon.
“We’re going to play exciting hockey. Hopefully, we’re going to be a team that plays a style of hockey that the fans of Erie will be proud of. We’ll try and give them something to cheer about.” said Butler, “I’m looking forward to getting down there, meeting the players and all the staff, immersing myself in the community, and getting going.”
Head Coach Stan Butler is expected to join the team officially in the near future upon U.S. immigration approval. Assistant coaches Vince Laise and Wes Wolfe will continue their interim head coaching roles in the meantime.
The Otters sit last in the Mid West Division with a record of 14 wins 23 losses one overtime loss and three shootout losses.
Butler takes over for BJ Adams, who was relieved as Otters coach on January 9. Assistant coaches Vince Laise and Wes Wolfe were handling the coaching responsibilities since then.
“We will work diligently to look for our next coach in the days ahead.” said Brown after the firing of Adams, “[We will] hopefully have something in the immediate future.”
The Erie Otters regular season continues tonight as the team takes its final trip to the Meridian Centre against the Niagara IceDogs of the 2022-23 season.
Meantime, Butler and the Otters will make a visit to Memorial Gardens on February 16.