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Craig Heisinger.


Keith McCambridge, Manitoba Moose head coach.


In 1996, Heisinger was brought into the Manitoba Moose fold after an endorsement from then assistant coach Randy Carlyle, who got promoted to head coach and gen- eral manager later that season. Carlyle praised Heisinger’s work ethic, having worked with him when Carlyle played for the Jets a few years earlier. “Te most difficult decision I made was the decision to


move from equipment manager to assistant general man- ager under Randy Carlyle in 1999. He had told me that if I didn’t like it, I could go back to my old job, but that never happened.” In 2002, Carlyle left the Moose to become head coach of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and Heisinger was pro- moted to the general manager’s position, a post he would hold until the Moose became the IceCaps in 2011, assum- ing the same title for the new team. Heisinger had mixed feelings when the Jets returned and the Moose left.


An emotional time “It was kind of like getting sand kicked in our faces with


how quickly people were willing to cast the Moose aside. It was a very emotional time for a number of reasons, but they were mostly winning emotions. “We’d all cut our teeth in the International Hockey


League (IHL) and NHL. While we never won a champi- onship, the end goal was always to get an NHL franchise back in the city. I was happy to see that accomplished.” While his list of responsibilities has increased over time, and unexpected obstacles can impede his work, Heisinger wouldn’t have it any other way. “Tis is all I’ve ever known, dealing on the front lines with the players every day. No two days are ever the same, and you run into Murphy’s Law quite often. But you find a way to get things done.” With the NHL and AHL franchises now sharing a building, Heisinger is quick to point out some of the ad- vantages they have over other organizations. “I think it’s really good for the players, especially those in the AHL. Tey know they’re being watched closely and that adds a little extra motivation. On the people side of things, it’s also better; take (veteran player) Jay Harrison for


20 • Winter 2015


example. When he was sent from the NHL to the AHL at the end of the pre-season, his world was upside down. But for a guy with a family and four little girls, he didn’t have to worry about his personal life because he was staying in Winnipeg.” From an administrative perspective, Heisinger will not miss the seven-hour flights to St. John’s to see the AHL club. Te move means that only one of the Jets minor league affiliates, the Tulsa Oilers of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), is out of town. “Everybody enjoys it more. We had lost touch more and


more as time went on between 2011 and 2015. It’s enjoy- able to be able to stay in the city as well. Daily business is pretty much the same and I’m able to talk to the NHL, AHL and ECHL coach everyday.” So what’s it like working in the city you grew up in? “Lots of positives and negatives. You can’t hide, so you


just have to put on a brave face and deal with it. It’s still way better than a normal job.”


A Moose on and off the ice Moose Head Coach Keith McCambridge has had a bit


of a luxury in regards to working in his home province. McCambridge, who was born in Tompson but raised in Selkirk, was a player and coach for the first version of the Moose, served as the head coach of the St. John’s IceCaps for their four seasons in Newfoundland, and has remained in that role since their return to Manitoba. “Coming back to play or coach at home is rare, and it’s happened twice, first as a player for a few games in 2000, then as an assistant coach from 2009 to 2011. Tose were two really good years with good coaches.” With the return of the Jets, the Moose head coach at the time, Claude Noel, got the NHL job, which left a va- cancy for the head-coaching job with the AHL team, the St. John’s IceCaps. McCambridge applied for the job and got it.


McCambridge describes the transition from player to


coach as a goal he had while playing. He admits not know- ing how much hard work there would be, and the impor- tance of representing the team and the logo. “I was always interested in structure and details while


The Hub


Photos courtesy of the Manitoba Moose.


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