One of the nicest guys in hockey, Chris Hajt, is leaving the Guelph Storm.
Hajt will be an assistant coach to Mike Stothers with the American Hockey League's Manchester Monarchs. It was announced Monday.You will never meet a classier guy.
But kicked off the bench after last season and an assistant to a general manager in the final year of his contract, he has decided to open another chapter.
Bet of luck to Chris and his family.
Here's the story ...
GUELPH—Chris Hajt is leaving the Guelph Storm.
Hajt, who last year served as assistant general manager of the Storm after five years behind the bench as an assistant coach, has left to become an assistant coach with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
The Monarchs are the top farm team of the Los Angeles Kings.
“I basically wasn’t actually looking for anything new. It was just something that happened fairly quickly,” Hajt said Tuesday from Los Angeles where he was on the ice at the Kings developmental camp.
“After the OHL draft I was on vacation in California visiting my sister and they ended up calling me about the position.”
Hajt, 36, said he did not apply for the job, it was offered to him and he saw it as a great opportunity.
“I definitely love coaching. There’s no doubt about that,” Hajt said. “I love teaching and when you do something for five years you have a passion for it.
“It’s very exciting. You get that call and then you’re excited about that opportunity in front of you,” he said.
The new head coach in Manchester is Mike Stothers, who used to coach the Owen Sound Attack and for the past three years was coach of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors, where the general manager is former storm GM Alan Millar.
Former OHL coach and general manager Mike Futa is the Kings’ vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel.
“The hockey world is a small world and there a lot of the same people we know well,” Hajt said of working with Stothers. “This is a great opportunity with an amazing organization that just won the Stanley Cup.”
Hajt played for the Storm for four years and was a second round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers. After wrapping up a 12-year professional career that included six games in the National Hockey League, he joined the Storm as an assistant coach to Jason Brooks in 2008.
After the 2012-2013 season he moved off the bench to be assistant GM to Mike Kelly.
Hajt, who is married with two young sons, said he will miss Guelph and the people.
“I love Guelph and will always love Guelph. It’s an amazing city with great people.
“The organization treated me and my family very, very well. I can’t thank everyone – from the owners and Mike to the office staff to the players and coaches – enough. I could go down the line of great people I’ve been able to work with in Guelph,” he said.
The word was out of the bag a couple of days ago when Hajt boarded the same flight to Los Angeles as Storm defenceman Zac Leslie, who was on his way to LA to attend the development camp along with Justin Auger and ex-Storm defenceman Nick Ebert. It became official Tuesday.
The Storm did not issue a press release on the move, but did post the news on its web site.
“As much as it is difficult to lose an individual of Chris’s calibre, we are thrilled to see him take the next step in his professional development,” general manager Mike Kelly said on the team’s web site.