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Derek Laxdal named new head coach of the Coachella Valley Firebirds

The Coachella Valley Firebirds have named Derek Laxdal as its new head coach.

Laxdal, 58, is a former NHL player and a long-time coach across the NHL, AHL, ECHL, Western Hockey League, and Ontario Hockey League.

He spent the last two years as head coach of the Oshawa Generals in the OHL, guiding the team to a record of 40-19-9 and a berth in the league finals this past season. He joins the Firebirds as the reigning coach of the year for the OHL.

“I would like to thank Ron Francis, David Bonderman, Samantha Holloway and the entire Seattle Kraken ownership group for the opportunity to lead the Firebirds,” said Derek Laxdal. “I look forward to the season and meeting the great fans in Coachella Valley. My family and I look forward to making the Valley our new home.”

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Laxdal who appeared in 67 NHL games for Toronto and the New York Islanders, was a coaching fixture in the Dallas Stars organization from 2014 to 2022. First as head coach of the AHL Texas Stars for five seasons, then three with Dallas as an assistant coach.

In 2018, Laxdal led the Austin-based Texas Stars to the Calder Cup Final, losing in seven games to the Toronto Marlies. In the 2020 pandemic-induced NHL bubble, Laxdal was part of Dallas winning the Western Conference and reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

When Rick Bowness stepped down as Dallas head coach in 2022, Laxdal was part of the Stars changing out the entire coaching staff.

“We are pleased to welcome Derek and his family to the Firebirds,” said Kraken GM Ron Francis. “Derek has a successful history of coaching and developing players at all levels. We look forward to him leading our group as we continue to build upon the foundation we have established in the AHL and the local community in our first two years in the Valley.”

Laxdal took the head coaching job at the Ontario Hockey League Oshawa Generals. The storied franchise was in a rebuilding year during 2022-23 with a young squad but still qualified for the OHL playoffs. This past season, Laxdal’s squad jelled in a big way, posting a 49-19-0 regular season and advancing to the league final.

“We are excited to welcome Derek to the Firebirds," said John Page, senior vice president of Oak View Group/Acrisure Arena/Coachella Valley Firebirds. “Our first two years in the Coachella Valley have been outstanding and we believe we have set a high standard in the American Hockey League. We thank Dan Bylsma and Jessica Campbell for their tremendous contributions. We have built something special here, and we look forward to continuing our momentum in front of our great fans.”

Laxdal takes over the position from Dan Bylsma, who was hired by the Seattle Kraken as their head coach.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates on the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

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