Former Windsor Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel is announced as the new head coach of the OHL's Barrie Colts, September 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of Barrie Colts.

Former Spitfires GM is Barrie’s new bench boss

The former general manager and minority owner of the Windsor Spitfires has a new job.

Warren Rychel will be staying in the Ontario Hockey League, having been announced Monday as the new head coach of the Barrie Colts. Rychel is taking over the bench duties from Dale Hawerchuk, who is taking a leave of absence due to unspecified personal reasons.

Colts president Howie Campbell said the news about Hawerchuk was tough, but they are confident Rychel is the man they need to guide the Colts through the coming season.

“We consulted with many people, including Dale Hawerchuk, and we all agreed that Warren is the right man for the job,” said Campbell in a media release. “It’s been a very difficult couple of weeks, but we are confident that Warren can help guide us to where we need to be. We’ve been building this team for a while, and we feel we have the team to have a good run this year.”

Rychel served as the general manager and a part-owner for the Spitfires from 2006 until this year when he announced he was stepping down to pursue opportunities in the NHL. During his time in Windsor, Rychel helmed three Memorial Cup-winning teams in 2009, 2010 and 2017.

The new Colts coach understands he is coming to Barrie during an uncertain time.

“Although I’m thrilled to be joining the Colts, this is not the best circumstance for anyone,” said Rychel. “I have huge respect for Dale Hawerchuk, and first and foremost my thoughts are with him and his family. I’ve known Howie and the Colts organization for many years and I know this is a top-notch OHL team. As a group, I think we have some of the best minds and experience in the league. I’m excited to get started.”

Bill Bowler took over as the new general manager of the Spitfires in July of this year.