West Valley City, Utah - The Utah Grizzlies announced today that Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Jason Christie will be named Assistant Coach for the AHL's reigning Calder Cup Champion Chicago Wolves.
Christie joined the Grizzlies on June 14, 2005 and built the organization as they transitioned to the ECHL. Utah advanced to the playoffs in two of Christie's three seasons behind the bench. In 2005-2006, Utah was the only one of three ECHL expansion teams to advance to the playoffs and this past season, Utah advanced to the conference finals as they enjoyed their best season in over a decade. During the summer of 2007, he was a key factor in the Grizzlies securing an affiliation with the New York Islanders. Under Christie's reign, the organization also set team records for appearances in the community and work with non-profit groups.
"Jason leaves a stamp on both this organization and the state of Utah on the ice and in the community," said Grizzlies CEO Kevin Bruder. "We were very fortunate to have him with us for over three years and wish him the absolute best as he takes the next step in his coaching career."
"My family and I have really enjoyed living in Utah, we will miss it here," said Christie. "I want to thank Mr. Bruder and Mr. Elmore (Grizzlies Owner Dave Elmore) for their support and trust the last three years. It is difficult to leave but I feel really good about this upcoming Grizzlies team; coming off of last year's conference finals appearance and starting the second season of the Islanders affiliation. It was a pleasure and an honor working with Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) President Howard Saffan and New York Pro Scout Toby O'Brien. They have a lot of young talent in their organization and Utah will continue to reap the benefits."
In Chicago, Christie will be reunited with Wolves Head Coach Don Granato, whom he played for in the ECHL with the Columbus Chill and Peoria Rivermen. During the 1999-2000 season, Christie served as a player/assistant coach for Granato as the Rivermen captured the Kelly Cup Championship; battling back from a 2-0 series deficit in the best-of-seven series. The following year, Christie was given his first head coaching job with the Rivermen when Granato advanced to coach Worcester in the AHL. Wolves General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was the Grizzlies Assistant Coach/Assistant General Manager under coach Butch Goring from 1995-1997, including the 1995-1996 season when Utah won the IHL's Turner Cup.
The Grizzlies open the 2008-2009 season Saturday, October 18 at Idaho. The home opening weekend for Utah is Friday and Saturday October 24 and 25 versus Alaska at the E-Center.
The Utah Grizzlies, of the ECHL, celebrate their 15th anniversary season in 2008-2009. Owned and operated by the Elmore Sports Group, the Grizzlies enter their second season and sixth overall as an affiliate of the New York Islanders. The Grizzlies play all home games at the E-Center of West Valley City, which hosted hockey during the 2002 Winter Olympics.