One of the longest-serving MJHL head coaches is stepping off the bench. Highly respected Ken Pearson recently announced he was leaving the Winkler Flyers’ bench to focus 100 per cent on his general manager duties.
“There were a combination of factors which led to my decision,” Pearson said from his Flyers’ office. “It was just the right time. Our success on the ice comes with success away from the ice. These days’ young players have so many other options where to play. It’s very important to stay on top of that to ensure success on the ice. Recruiting players is very competitive.”
Pearson was also quick to praise assistant coach/Flyer alumni Steve Mullin, who will now assume his first MJHL head coach stint.
“We’ve got a very good, skilled staff here,” Pearson said of Mullin and his staff. “Steve has shown he’s more than ready to step into the role of head coach.”
Mullin could only hope to enjoy half the success which has come Pearson’s way: two MJHL championships (Flyers and Winnipeg Blues) and eight times a finalist for MJHL coach of the year. “I’m the Susan Lucci (TV soap opera personality/perennial runner-up for Best Actress award) of the MJHL,” he said with a laugh.
All joking aside, Pearson’s junior A career behind the bench was outstanding. He first stepped on the bench in 1994-95 in Neepawa as an assistant to long-time friend Don MacGillivray. The two also worked together with Prince Alberta Raiders when MacGillivray was interim head coach.
Eventually, Pearson graduated to head coach: 11 years in total with the Flyers, four with the Blues, three years in the SJHL and two in the AJHL.
While he’s certainly seen/travelled the prairies, Winkler has always been home for the father of two (15-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old son).
While coaching is a definite love, Pearson says he has a real passion for scouting and recruiting. He worked for NHL Central Scouting for nearly a decade and looks forward to spending more time in rinks in the stands watching young prospects, and that future Flyer super star.
As general manager, Pearson also oversees marketing and sponsorships. He intends to help current Marketing Director Matt Friesen with a number of high-profile events. “Matt has been pretty much doing all this by himself,” said Pearson. “I’ll now be able to provide him with more support.”
With the new hockey season fast approaching, Pearson is busy with both player and marketing chores.
“Leaving the bench will really kick in when we play our first regular season game,” Pearson said. “But the time was right to make this move. I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”