The Chicago Wolves and the Vegas Golden Knights announced Wednesday that Rocky Thompson has been hired as Chicago’s head coach for the 2017-18 season.
“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.”
The 39-year-old Thompson becomes the 10th head coach in Wolves history. He joins the organization just 10 days after guiding the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires to the 2017 Memorial Cup championship.
“He knows how to win,” said Wolves general manager Wendell Young. “He was a tough, hard worker when he played and those characteristics have carried over as a coach. He is meticulous in every area. Everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey world has given him rave reviews. He’s going to be a tremendous asset when it comes to developing players and continuing the Wolves’ winning ways.”
Ousted in the first round of the OHL Playoffs by the London Knights in seven games – which led to a 44-day layoff from competition – Memorial Cup host Windsor proceeded to sweep all four games against OHL, Quebec Major and Western Hockey League champion opponents to hoist the coveted chalice on May 28.
During two seasons as Windsor’s head coach, Thompson accrued an 81-40-11-4 record for a .651 win percentage. In each of those campaigns, Windsor finished second in the West Division and fifth in the Western Conference.
Prior to joining the Spitfires, Thompson spent eight seasons in the Edmonton Oilers organization as an assistant coach. He began his coaching career in 2007 with the expansion Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. Following three seasons with the Oil Kings, he was promoted to the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons. After four seasons serving as an assistant to Todd Nelson with the Barons, Thompson was elevated to the National Hockey League parent club and spent one season behind the bench assisting Dallas Eakins and Nelson.
Thompson, who was selected in the third round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames, played professionally for 11 seasons. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right wing appeared in 25 NHL games for the Flames and the Florida Panthers and racked up 117 penalty minutes.
In AHL competition, Thompson appeared in 566 regular-season games and compiled 69 points (17G, 52A) with 1,919 penalty minutes. The Calgary, Alberta native skated for the Edmonton Road Runners, Hershey Bears, Louisville Panthers, Peoria Rivermen, Saint John Flames, San Antonio Rampage and Toronto Roadrunners during a career that began in 1996 and extended through 2007.
Thompson will be behind the bench when the Wolves host their 2017-18 home opener on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Allstate Arena. To stay updated on the latest team news and ticket offers, visit ChicagoWolves.com.
Header and article image credit: Aaron Bell and Terry Wilson/CHL Images