The Kelowna Rockets’ head coach will be behind the bench for the foreseeable future after signing an extension this week.
On Wednesday, Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton announced that Kris Mallette had signed a multi-year extension.
Terms of the contract were not released, but Hamilton called it a good signing.
“We’re excited to sign Kris to a multi-year extension,” said Hamilton.
“We’re in a place where we need a little bit of a culture change and to get back to what we were three or four years ago, where Prospera was a place where teams didn’t want to play games.
“I feel Kris is the right person to do that. We’re at a great stage in our development for him to continue working with a younger group of players, and lead a team that we feel is going to be very competitive.”
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A former stay-at-home defenceman with Kelowna for just over two seasons in the late 1990s, Mallette joined the Rockets’ coaching staff as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season.
Following a short, two-week stint as the team’s interim head coach, Mallette was named head coach on March 2, 2020.
His elevation came quickly after Kelowna fired former head coach Adam Foote on Feb. 19, 2020.
Mallette is now the club’s 11th head coach, and their fourth since the 2015-16 season. Since then, the Rockets have hired and fired Brad Ralph, Jason Smith and Foote.
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During the 2021 season, Kelowna posted a record of 10-5-1-0. Overall, Mallette’s record is 15-7-2-1 in 25 regular-season games.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with the Kelowna Rockets organization for the past seven seasons and it’s been an absolute privilege,” said Mallette.
“My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to continue calling Kelowna home for the next few seasons. I look forward to growing together with this young team and expect big things from this team.”
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CHL import draft
In related news, the Rockets selected a small forward from the Czech Republic in the CHL’s annual import draft on Wednesday.
With their first-round selection, 44th overall, Kelowna drafted Gabriel Szturc, 17. The Rockets also had a second-round pick, but passed, stating Pavel Novak will be returning this season.
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The 5-foot-10 and 172-pound centre represented the Czech Republic at the 2021 IIHF under-18 championship, tallying four points (3 goals, 1 assist), no penalty minutes and a plus-three rating in five games.
According to the Rockets, Szturc spent most of last season on loan with HC Slovan Usti and Labem (Czech2 league). He had six points (1 goal, 5 assists) and 8 penalty minutes in 16 games.
Szturc also played 11 games for BK Mlada Boleslav U20 (Czech U20), posting six points (2 goals, 4 assists) and 10 penalty minutes.
The Rockets passed on their second-round pick, forward Pavel Novak will return to the Rockets for the 2021-22 season.
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