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George Burnett said he wasn't looking to coach the Guelph Storm

But when the opportunity arose during discussions to become the team's new GM he jumped at the chance
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George Burnett is introduced as the new general manager and coach of the Guelph Storm Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at the Sleeman Centre. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

George Burnett said he had no plans to coach the Guelph Storm when he started looking into the general manager's job.

But when discussions with the team's owners quickly turned to the possibility of doing both jobs, the man who has coached over 1,300 regular season games in the Ontario Hockey League jumped at the chance.

"I wasn't searching out the dual role. It got into an interview process with the ownership group and at that time found out that the opportunity to possibly consider both roles was there, very recently," Burnett said.

"It didn't start out that way....I didn't go into this thinking I was going to be coaching, but I'm thrilled with the opportunity that's presented."

The Storm officially introduced Burnett as the new general manager and coach at the Sleeman Centre on Tuesday.

Burnett, who said coaching will be his main focus initially, said he thinks one person can do both the GM and coach roles.

"I think it really comes down to how you surround yourself, the people that are within and the delegation of roles," Burnett said.

"I think it's safe to say that there was a time that I didn't delegate much and I think I'm a lot better at that now.

"There's no master plan to come in and make a lot of changes. It's been in good hands."

Burnett said he has full control over hockey decisions but expects to have an open dialogue with the owners.

As for assistant coaches, he said he will be sitting down with Todd Harvey and Luca Caputi in the coming days.

"My priority with me is sitting down with all the staff in the next few days, discuss their thoughts and come up with a plan very quickly."

Burnett previously coached the Storm for one season, taking them to the Memorial Cup final in 1998 where they lost to the Portland Winter Hawks.

"There are some great pieces to the puzzle here," Burnett said.

"Championships are built and it takes a little time. It's been a couple of tough seasons, I understand that, and we're looking for progress and making sure this team takes a huge step forward in a lot of ways this coming season."

Storm co-owner and governor Rick Gaetz said the team is turning a new chapter.

"We're certainly in the middle of a rebuild and there's some very nice pieces to build off going forward. We're lucky in Guelph in that we're a very respected organization throughout the Ontario Hockey League and the CHL," Gaetz said.

"When these things come about, very infrequently in Guelph, we're lucky to have a lot of really talented folks that want to join our organization and we were thrilled to connect with George Burnett.

"We're thrilled to have him back in the family. We know that the culture that is so valuable to us and near and dear to our heart will be upheld wonderfully under George's stewardship."

Last season Burnett served as the league-appointed general manager of the league's Flint Firebirds.

Gaetz and Burnett took time to compliment and thank outgoing general manager Mike Kelly, who was in attendance Tuesday.

"The Guelph Storm and the Ontario Hockey League is losing a tremendous individual," said Burnett, who has known Kelly since 1989.

Burnett lives in Oshawa where his wife is a school teacher. He has a son at home and his daughter is the head lacrosse coach at Wilfrid Laurier University.

His first order of business comes Saturday when the team will bring in this year's draft picks for fitness testing and orientation.

 



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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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