Assistants together at this year’s World Juniors, Michael Dyck and Dennis Williams plan to hold off talking until after this WHL series is complete.

Article content

The most excited person about the Vancouver Giants meeting the Everett Silvertips to open the WHL playoffs might well have been Louis Robitaille, who’s the head coach of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques.

advertisement 2

Article content

Robitaille was one of three assistant coaches with the Canadian world junior team earlier this season. The other two were Giants bench boss Michael Dyck and his Silvertips’ counterpart Dennis Williams.

After it was finalized late Saturday that Vancouver and Everett would square-off in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals to begin the post-season, Robitaille started a text string between the three coaches, aiming to playfully fire things up further, to “tease and prod and poke,” to borrow a phrase from Dyck.

Neither Dyck nor Williams will divulge exactly what Robitaille was going on about, but it sounds like it’s been put on the back-burner for the time being at least. Williams said Robitaille was getting after it about the matchups on Sunday and Monday but he has gone silent the past few days.

advertisement 3

Article content

“Louis is a funny guy,” Williams said.


Game 1, best-of-seven


Vancouver Giants vs. Everett Silvertips

7:05 pm, Angel of the Winds Arena. Radio: Sportsnet 650

Dyck, 53, who’s in his fourth season guiding the Giants, and Williams, 42, who’s in his fifth campaign at the helm of the Silvertips, are in regular contact usually. They worked together at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Dyck as head coach and William as an assistant with the Canadian entry in the Under-18 summer tournament. They’ve remained friendly since.

They likely won’t exchange much more than pleasantries in passing during this series, though. That tends to be standard operating practice in hockey circles in these situations.

“I don’t see you talking this week,” Dyck said.

advertisement 4

Article content

Williams added: “You avoid it out of respect for him. You avoid it out of respect for your own team.”

advertisement 5

Article content

advertisement 6

Article content

Williams’ coaching staff includes assistant Dean DeSilva, who was Dyck’s video coach with the Giants in 2019-20. DeSilva and the Giants cut ties early on in COVID-19 times and he went back to Kitchener, Ont., helping run the minor hockey association there. He had worked with that group before signing on with the Giants.

When the Silvertips were looking to add to their coaching staff before this season, DeSilva applied. Williams is originally from Stratford, Ont., which is about a 45-minute drive west of Kitchener. He and DeSilva had people in common already. Williams still made one reference phone call.

“A reference from Dycker means a lot to me,” Williams said.

And there are still more ties between the coaching staffs after that. Keith McCambridge is in his second season as Vancouver’s associate coach. He and Everett associate coach Louis Mass, who’s in his fourth season behind the Silvertips’ bench, were defensemen together with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and Mass went on to become McCambridge’s assistant coach with the club when McCambridge took over the bench-boss duties there later .

advertisement 7

Article content

Vancouver Giants coach Michael Dyck.
Vancouver Giants coach Michael Dyck. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

You can debate what all this history means to this series between the Silvertips and the Giants, who finished eighth in the Western Conference regular season. Dyck and Williams would know each other’s work habits and belief systems to a greater degree than the majority of the other coaches they could be facing off against in this round. It’s also true that the hockey world has become small enough thanks to video and the internet that Dyck could give you a multi-paged scouting report on the tendencies in various situations of every single power play in the league and not just that of the Silvertips.

We’ll give the last word on all this to Williams. He insists that dueling with Dyck will “bring a lot more excitement.”

“He’s somebody I don’t hesitate to reach out to when I have a question about something and I’d like to think that he thinks the same way about me,” Williams said. “He’s somebody that I have great respect for. He’s someone that I’d like the opportunity to work with again.

[email protected]


More news, fewer ads: Our in-depth journalism is possible thanks to the support of our subscribers. For just $3.50 per week, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: Vancouver Sun | The Province.

advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.