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Golden Knights hire Rocky Thompson to coach AHL affiliate

The Golden Knights have hired a coach for their American Hockey League affiliate who has a championship to his name.

Rocky Thompson, who led the Windsor Spitfires to the Memorial Cup title May 28, will coach the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He replaces Craig Berube, who guided the Wolves to the Midwest Division title this year and the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

“We are extremely pleased to introduce Rocky as the head coach of our American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves,” Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said Wednesday in a statement. “As a player, he was competitive, tough, team-oriented and hard working. As a coach, he is now coming off a Memorial Cup Championship season with the Windsor Spitfires and has enjoyed success at multiple levels.

“Player development is a significant priority for our organization, and he has proven to be very capable in that area as well. Rocky is the right coach to help us win championships in Chicago.”

Thompson, 39, has pro coaching experience. He spent four years in the AHL as an assistant with Oklahoma City and was with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant in 2014-15 before becoming the head coach at Windsor of the junior Ontario Hockey League.

“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve as head coach of the Chicago Wolves,” Thompson said. “Chicago is a tremendous hockey community, and I look forward to helping the Golden Knights develop top players on and off the ice in front of this dedicated fan base.”

As a player, Thompson spent the majority of his career in the minors. He was a third-round draft pick of Calgary in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft and played parts of two seasons with the Flames. In a total of 25 NHL games with Calgary and Florida, he went scoreless but racked up 117 minutes in penalties.

His playing career ended in 2007 in Peoria, and he went to the junior ranks as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. This season, his second as a head coach, he guided Windsor to junior hockey’s top prize, as the Spitfires defeated Erie in the championship game.

The Golden Knights and Wolves signed a deal last month with the Knights as the primary NHL affiliate. Vegas is responsible for supplying the players and hockey operations staff, including coaches.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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