Recently hired Saginaw Spirit head coach Troy Smith announced in an email press release earlier this afternoon that Ryan Kuwabara will be joining he and Saginaw assistant Chris Lazary behind the Spirit bench for the upcoming 2017-18 Saginaw Spirit season as an assistant coach.
“I am extremely excited to welcome Ryan to the Spirit organization,” Smith said. “Having observed him develop young players with Ancaster into OHL players and NHL draft picks, I am confident he will be a great asset to our coaching staff. His experience in hockey is unique and impressive. We are extremely fortunate to add a staff member who is an Olympian, NHL draft pick, first round OHL pick, and a Bobby Smith Award winner. His personality and experience will provide great mentorship to our players.”
For the past four years, the 45 year old Kuwabara led the Ancaster Avalanche of the Ontario Junior Hockey League to a 111-83 (and 4-ties) record through 198-games as the head coach/GM from 2013 through the 2017 season.
Kuwabara, who was born in Hamilton, ON and has dual citizenship in both Canada and Japan, was drafted by the Ottawa 67's in the first round of the 1989 OHL priority selection draft and won the 1989-90 Bobby Smith award for scholastic achievement while playing for the 67's, where he was drafted 39 overall in the second round of the 1990 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens.
After playing 2 years in the Canadiens' system, spending time in the ECHL and AHL, Kuwabara left for Japan where he won 5-championships over 14 seasons (including one year in Scotland where he won a British Ice Hockey Super League championship for the Belfast Giants in the 2002-03 season) while also playing for Japan in the 1998 Olympics where he scored 2 goals.
Kuwabara is definitely a proven champion and he is excited to get started in Saginaw.
“I am extremely excited to join the Saginaw Spirit organization,” Kuwabara said. “I look forward to working closely with Troy Smith and Chris Lazary, as both gentlemen are phenomenal coaches. I hope to draw on my experience as an OHL player as a tool to guide our players to success on and off the ice.”
Saginaw GM Dave Drinkill also announced longtime Spirit employee Brian Prout will take over as the new assistant GM for John Kisil, who took a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Prout started as an account executive with the Spirit in 2002, moved up to Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 2007 and became President of Sales and Marketing in 2012 after spending 2 years with the Sarnia Sting.
He returned to Saginaw and began working as a volunteer U.S. Scout to start the 2015 season, and will now work directly with Drinkill directly in his assistant GM duties.
“Brian Prout is an extremely hard working individual that is passionate about the Saginaw Spirit organization and the direction we are headed,” Drinkill said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work alongside him for years to come.”
Kuwabara will join Smith and Lazary, along with the rest of the Spirit team for training camp Aug. 28, at the Dow Event Center to prepare for the upcoming season.