The Lynx are in the market for a new assistant coach as Louis Santini and the team parted ways Wednesday.
Lynx coach Scott MacPherson said Santini asked to be released from his contract, citing personal reasons.
"We didn't want to pry into it," MacPherson said. "He requested a change, and there's not a whole lot we can do but comply."
According to several team sources, the Lynx are pursuing former assistant coach Ron Filion as Santini's replacement.
Filion joined the Lynx last February as an assistant to former coach Dan Wiebe, and was credited for helping turn around the season after a dismal start. The Montreal native is out of pro hockey and living in California, where he manages an ice rink.
While Santini's conspicuous absence from practice Tuesday and Wednesday led some to speculate he had been fired, MacPherson and Lynx general manager Paul Gamsby said it was strictly his decision to leave.
"In talking to him, he felt a change was necessary," MacPherson said. "It's one of those things we're going to deal with in-house as much as possible and move forward. That's the most I can say."
Attempts to contact Santini at his home in Augusta were unsuccessful. MacPherson said the Tarrytown, N.Y., native was still in town as of Wednesday morning, but that he would "probably be heading back up to New England."
The 32-year-old Santini was an assistant coach the past six years at Middlebury (Vt.) College, a program that won five straight Division III hockey championships.
With the Lynx, Santini helped MacPherson run practice each day and broke down game video. On the bench during games, he was responsible for changing up the team's defense pairings, he and also worked with the goaltenders in practice.
"Louis did a great job with the video breakdown and obviously was a guy you could bounce ideas off of," MacPherson said.
Before hiring Santini in August, MacPherson initially offered the job to former Huntington Blizzard coach Ray Edwards. But Edwards, who was a finalist for several head coaching jobs in the ECHL this summer, turned down the Lynx to become coach of the Memphis team, which is expected to join the league next season. The Blizzard suspended operations at the end of last season.
As for Filion, the question remains as to his willingness to return to the Lynx. He was a finalist for the head coaching post vacated by Wiebe, but ultimately was passed over, along with former Roanoke Express coach Scott Gordon, for MacPherson.
The fiery Filion had a great rapport with the players last season and was hailed by Wiebe as one of the catalysts behind the team's late-season turnaround and improbable playoff run.
MacPherson said only that the team has initiated a search for a new assistant but doesn't expect to move quickly.
"We're not going to do anything right away," MacPherson said. "We're just going to digest this first."
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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