Originally created 01/02/01

Lynx await answer from Watt



Watt next?

That's the question the Augusta Lynx asked Monday as they waited to hear if former National Hockey League coach Tom Watt would agree to become their new bench boss.

"We're expecting his answer sometime today," Lynx general manager Paul Gamsby said late Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after firing Scott MacPherson after 33 games as the team's head coach.

"Obviously, we hope he tells us he's coming, but I'm looking at some other candidates in case he doesn't."

Gamsby has no choice now but to expand his search after learning that Watt seriously is considering an offer to return to the NHL.

According to an NHL source, Watt has been offered a position with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The source, however, did not know if it was a job as an assistant coach or in some other capacity. Anaheim recently shuffled its coaching staff, firing coach Craig Hartsburg on Dec. 14 and replacing him with Guy Charron.

How huge would landing a coach of Watt's background be for the Lynx?

The 64-year-old Watt coached the University of Toronto to nine Canadian national championships, and was a head coach in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs.

With Winnipeg in 1982, Watt was named the Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL's coach of the year. He also got his name on the Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames in 1989.

Several current NHL coaches, including Boston Bruins coach Mike Keenan, have credited Watt as being a major influence on their careers.

Most recently, Watt served for one season as development coach with the Flames after several years away from the Calgary organization. He did not return for a second season because he reportedly did not like splitting time between Calgary and the Flames' AHL affiliate in Saint John, New Brunswick, and missed being behind the bench. Calgary also fired the men who re-hired him in 1999 - general manager Al Coates and coach Brian Sutter - last April.

Prior to returning to Calgary, Watt spent two seasons behind the bench with the Sudbury Wolves of the major junior Ontario Hockey League, where he coached current Lynx winger Jonas Soling and former Lynx Wes Mason.

If he decides to take the Augusta job, Watt would become the oldest active head coach in the East Coast Hockey League.

In a story by The Toronto Sun dated Jan. 29, 1998, former University of Toronto player and Canucks coach Harry Neale said: "Tom's last coaching stop will be at the cemetery," which alluded to his undying passion for coaching.

Gamsby would not divulge the names of the other candidates. If Watt turns Augusta down, Gamsby and injured player/assistant coach Louis Dumont likely would run the team when the Lynx return to action Friday to take on the Richmond Renegades at home.

Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or robm99@hotmail.com