Even as the virtual version of the Coquitlam Express continues its drive for a digital BC Hockey League championship, the real team is looking for a new head coach and general manager.
Jason Fortier, who helmed the Express since November, 2017, told Brian Wiebe of BCHL Today he’s moving on after he couldn’t agree on terms for a new contract with team owner Fayaz Manji.
Assistant coaches Sam Waterfield and Jamie Jackson have also departed. Goalie coach Matt Karchmar remains with the team.
In a message posted on Twitter, the team wished Fortier and Waterfield “the very best on their future endeavours.”
Since taking over the Express after former coach Barry Wolff was fired, Fortier amassed 87 wins, 51 losses and 11 ties in three seasons.
This past season, Coquitlam set a franchise record for wins and points in the regular season and finished atop the BCHL’s regular season standings. Fortier was rewarded by being named the league’s coach of the year.
The Express defeated the Langley Rivermen in four straight games in the opening round of the playoffs before the rest of the post-season was cancelled March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manji, a Burnaby-based hotelier, acquired the Express last October, and quickly signed a five-year lease renewal with the city of Coquitlam to continue playing home games at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.
Express president Dave McLellan told Wiebe the team is working on finding a replacement coaching staff.