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This article was published 14/5/2019 (283 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An ownership change has triggered a front-office shuffle for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Winnipeg Blues.
The Blues, purchased last month by the parent company of the Western Hockey League's Winnipeg Ice, named Taras McEwen their new general manager Tuesday morning. The 28-year-old from Whitewood, Sask., most recently held the position of manager of scoring and hockey operations for the Ice. He will also continue in that role.
McEwen replaces Billy Keane, who was GM and head coach of the Blues. Keane had served as GM since 2017-18 and as head coach since 2016-17. The incoming boss said he is planning to determine if Keane is interested in returning behind the bench.
"Myself, (Ice GM) Matt (Cockell) and (Ice director of scouting and hockey operations) Jake (Heisinger), one of the first things we want to do is have discussions with Billy and gauge his interest in coming back and being head coach of the Blues," said McEwen. "I don't know what his response will be. I haven't had any discussions with Billy as of yet so that'll be the first thing because there will be change with the position, obviously, with the move."
Keane has a long history with the franchise, with a previous stint as head coach from 2004 to 2006. He's also a former club MVP, playing with the Blues from 1982 until 1984.
Reached Tuesday afternoon, Keane was asked if the job appealed to him.
"I'm definitely interested," said Keane, who guided the Blues to a 31-22-7 record and a sixth-place finish in 2018-19 before losing a quarter-final series in six games to the Steinbach Pistons.
With his expanded duties, McEwen needs to hit the ground running. The MJHL's scheduling meeting will be held June 8 with the league's bantam draft slated to be held the next day.
"It's going really well," said McEwen. "Obviously it will be a lot busier but I'm thankful for the opportunity from Jake and Matt for thinking of me for that position and I'm very excited for what the future holds for the Blues organization. I want to help build a new culture with the move to the new Rink training facility."
McEwen joined the Ice in 2017 as the club's manager of scouting. In 2018, his duties expanded to the current job description.
Before moving to the WHL, McEwen served as hockey operations assistant of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Notre Dame Hounds. Previous to that, was an assistant coach with the Prairie Junior Hockey League's Ochapowace Thunder (2013-15) and head coach of the Fort Qu'Appelle franchise (2015-16). The PJHL is a junior B league in Saskatchewan.
McEwen's family is steeped in the game. His dad Brad McEwen is a long-time coach and GM in the WHL and SJHL and is currently head scout for Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence. His uncle, Brent McEwen, also has an excellent track record in the the junior ranks and has spent the last 15 seasons as an amateur scout for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings.
"It's a pretty good resource to lean on, obviously," said McEwen. "I've grown up in the game and always had a passion for it. My dad's someone I've looked up to and he's been a mentor for me."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.