Canucks: Assistant coach Kyle Gustafson connected to junior return

The Vancouver Canucks have been making staffing changes across hockey operations and many are looking at the coaching staff next.

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Could current Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Kyle Gustafson land back in major junior hockey?

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The former head coach of the Portland Winterhawks joined the Canucks’ staff just last summer, reuniting with then-head-coach Travis Green eight years after the two last worked together at WHL Portland.

His job in games this past season was to serve as the eye-in-the-sky, spotting in-game issues from above and then relaying them down to the bench.

But with the turnover in head coaches, it’s not clear whether he will have a role going forward under Bruce Boudreau.

Asked last week about the status of his assistants — Gustafson, as well as Scott Walker, Brad Shaw and Jason King — Boudreau essentially said everyone is under review.

And so it makes sense that there is buzz going around WHL circles that Gustafson could be in line to take over as the Spokane Chiefs’ new head coach. As noted by Gregg Drinnan, the Chiefs’ new GM Matt Bardsley knows Gustafson well from their days working together in Portland.

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Indeed, according to Drinnan, while Bardsley was GM in Kamloops — he held the post from 2018 to 2021 — he tried to hire Gustafson as Blazers bench boss.

Turnover in Brandon

Elsewhere, former Canucks WHL scout Doug Gasper is again looking for work after stepping down as general manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings. He’ll officially leave his current post at the end of June.

“All good on my end, just not for me,” Gasper told Postmedia of why he stepped down from the job. “The distance was a problem for a normal family life. Whatever a normal hockey life looks like!”

His wife Kelly had remained this season at their home in Saskatoon.

Gasper joined the Canucks in 2017 and scouting the WHL’s Eastern Conference for two years but decided to take a job that required less travel, joining Brandon as their assistant GM in the summer of 2019. He was promoted to GM a year ago.

He has previously served as director of scouting for the Moose Jaw Warriors and also scouted for teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

He is looking for a new job but said his interests are “wide open.”

“Probably looking at some form of scouting job,” he added. “Would be good, where I can base out of Saskatoon.”

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