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Prince George’s Don Nachbaur back behind Tri-City Americans’ bench 11 years later

Three-time WHL Coach of the Year returns after short Switzerland stint

After a four-year break from major junior hockey, a Prince George hockey coach is back in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with a team that helped build on his success.

On Wednesday (Feb. 17), Don Nachbaur returned to the Tri-City Americans as their new associate coach after two seasons in Europe and 11 years after his last stint with the U.S. franchise.

The 62-year-old was the previous bench boss of Tri-City from 2003 to 2009, during which he earned one of his three WHL Coach of the Year titles and led the team to division and regular-season banners, all in 2008.

“I want to thank Bob [Tory, General Manager], Kelly [Buchberger, Head Coach], and the Americans ownership group for the opportunity to once again be part of the organization,” said Nachbaur in a news release about his return.

He coached SC Bern in Switzerland’s top professional hockey league to start the 2020-21 campaign, leaving the organization on Dec. 1 after a 4-0-1-8 start.

“I am very excited to meet the [Tri-City Americans] players and assist in their development while working alongside Kelly.”

Nachbaur is third in WHL all-times wins as a coach with 692 since 1994 when he began with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1994-2000); he also coached the Spokane Chiefs from 2010 to 2017.

He was promoted to the NHL and spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings and John Stevens, but were both ultimately fired after the team fell to a 4-8-1 start in 2018-19. 

Internationally, Nachbaur has experience with Hockey Canada:

  • Gold = 1999 Nations Cup, Assistant Coach
  • Gold = 2011 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, Assistant Coach
  • Fourth place = 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships, Assistant Coach

The WHL’s U.S. Division is set to start its shortened 2020-21 season on March 19 following COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The B.C. Division, which includes the Prince George Cougars, has not been approved to play games as of this publication (Feb. 18).