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Clouston is toast in wheat city

Brandon coach fired to avoid 'limbo'

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Even though it cost him his job, Cory Clouston isn't going to argue with Kelly McCrimmon's logic.

Clouston was fired on Tuesday after one season as the BrandonàWheat Kings' head coach.

With one year left on his contract, Clouston had the option to leave the Wheat Kings if offered a coaching position in the professional ranks and he doesn't fault McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings' owner and general manager, for not wanting to be left high and dry before the July 15 opt-out deadline.

"I don't think I expected it, but I definitely understand Kelly's thinking," Clouston said. "He feels the team is in a rebuilding mode for the next couple years and he told me he just doesn't want to have the coaching position in limbo for the next two months. I have options.

"He doesn't want me coming early July, telling him I'm going to the American league or wherever it may be. I'm not saying that was going to happen, but he doesn't want that as an option and I can understand his reasoning."

In fact, Clouston admitted he has been kicking a few tires to see what his options were, although he also told the Brandon Sun last week that he had been looking forward to returning to Brandon next season. That exploration will intensify now.

"I'll definitely explore my options, which is what I had already started to do anyway," said Clouston, 42, who will be paid by the Wheat Kings next season unless he finds a new coaching job.

"Whether it's the American league or the NHL, and obviously junior is still a very viable option as well. We'll have to wait and see how everything unfolds."

Clouston arrived in the Wheat City with great fanfare last summer after 2-1/2 seasons as the head coach of the NHL's Ottawa Senators.

While the Wheat Kings weren't the contenders that some had hoped for this season, Clouston said he was happy with the team's 39-28-1-4 record, considering players suffered 12 concussions at various points, goalie Corbin Boes missed time with a broken hand and leading scorer Mark Stone missed significant time due to the world junior hockey championship.

"I think we finished as strong or stronger than just about anybody in the league and unfortunately, we ran into Edmonton and right now they're at the Memorial Cup," said Clouston, whose team was swept by the eventual champion Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference semifinals after upsetting the Calgary Hitmen one round earlier. "... We lost arguably our two best players for Games 3 and 4 in Stone and (Mike) Ferland and that's tough. You need to be at your best to beat a team like Edmonton."

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2012 C12

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