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OHL Coach of the Year Laxdal Becomes Second Head Coach in Team History

Today, the Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) announced that Derek Laxdal has been hired as the new head coach of the franchise’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, Coachella Valley Firebirds. Laxdal succeeds Dan Bylsma, becoming the Firebirds’ second head coach in franchise history.

“We are pleased to welcome Derek and his family to the Coachella Valley Firebirds,” said Seattle Kraken General Manager, Ron Francis. “Derek has a successful history of coaching and developing players at all levels. We look forward to him leading our group as we continue to build upon the foundation we have established in the AHL and the local community in our first two years in the Valley.”

Laxdal, 58 joins Coachella Valley from the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Oshawa Generals where he led his team last season to an 89-point (40-19-7) regular season record and a spot in the OHL Championship Series. As a result, he was voted OHL Coach of the Year by his coaching peers from across the league.

Laxdal joined Oshawa as head coach and assistant general manager in 2022 after spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Prior to Dallas, Laxdal spent six seasons with the franchise’s AHL affiliate Texas Stars as head coach from 2014-2020. In 380 games behind the AHL bench, he had a record of 189-139-52 including a run to the Calder Cup final in 2018, losing in seven games to the Toronto Marlies. LaxdaL also won two WHL titles with the Edmonton Oil Kings (2011-12 and 2013-14) and reached the pinnacle of junior hockey, winning the Memorial Cup with the Oil Kings in 2014.

“We are excited to welcome Derek to the Firebirds. Our first two years in the Coachella Valley have been outstanding and we believe we have set a high standard in the American Hockey League,” said John Page, Senior Vice President, Oak View Group/Acrisure Arena/Coachella Valley Firebirds. “We thank Dan Bylsma and Jessica Campbell for their tremendous contributions. We have built something special here and we look forward to continuing our momentum as we hit the ice again next season in front of our great fans.”

“I would like to thank Ron Francis, David Bonderman, Samantha Holloway and the entire Seattle Kraken ownership group for the opportunity to lead the Firebirds,” said Derek Laxdal. “I look forward to the season and meeting the great fans in Coachella Valley. My family and I look forward to making the Valley our new home.” 

Laxdal’s professional coaching career also includes five years in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads. He achieved a winning record throughout all five seasons and led the Steelheads to two Kelly Cup Championship finals, winning in 2007 and finishing as runners-up in 2010. Additionally, he received the ECHL Coach of the Year award alongside his championship win in 2007.

Prior to his coaching career, Laxdal played six seasons (1984-85 to 1990-91) in the NHL between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders. In total, he played 27 seasons of professional hockey in several leagues including the NHL, AHL, ECHL, WHL and more. He won two championships throughout his professional career, the AHL Calder Cup in 1990 and the B&H Cup (previously the United Kingdom’s Autumn Cup) in 1997. He represented Canada internationally, winning a U20 World Juniors Championship silver medal in 1985-86.

Get a jump on the 2024-25 Firebirds season with season tickets on sale now! In addition to all Firebirds home games, season ticket members will have access to the 2025 AHL All Star Classic presented by Spotlight 29, along with special events, gifts, and more! Click HERE to learn more about securing your seat for next season!

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