Mark French Named Head Coach Of Calgary Hitmen

French during the postseason press conference after Medvescak’s elimination from 2014 KHL playoffs.

Mark French, the Calder Cup-winning ex-head coach of the Hershey Bears, has been named the new bench boss of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

The news came as a surprise. French looked poised to stay put in Croatia, where he served as Medvecak Zagreb’s head coach. French led the expansion team to the playoffs. Despite getting swept in the first round by future conference champions Lev Prague, both the club and their coach received glowing reviews from the hockey media and appeared ready to make the next step: announcing that French has re-signed with the team.

Those plans seems to have disintegrated as French signed a contract with the Hitmen on Thursday, one of the most popular WHL clubs.

The 43-year-old French was named assistant coach of Hershey in 2008. In the summer of 2009, he was promoted to head coach when Bob Woods moved to Washington to become Bruce Boudreau’s assistant. (Woods and French will meet in the WHL next season; Woods is now with the Saskatoon Blades.) A year later, French led Hershey to their second straight Calder Cup. After three more years with Hershey, French left North America for Croatia to become head coach with another Bears team in Zagreb.

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  • pribtwo

    Why did French leave Hershey? Was it philisophical differences between he and Oates or something else? I can’t imagine he left to pursue a job in the KHL specifically.