The Brandon Wheat Kings have a new General Manager.
Kelly McCrimmon, the Western Hockey League club’s Owner and Governor, has appointed Darren Ritchie for the job.
A former WHL All Star, Ritchie becomes the twelfth GM since the Wheat Kings joined the Western Canada Hockey League in 1967.
A Winnipeg native, Ritchie brings a wealth of WHL experience, having spent nine seasons as an Assistant Coach before being named Director of Scouting in 2016.
“It’s a real honour to have been given this opportunity,” says Ritchie, who was a member of McCrimmon’s coaching staff when the Wheat Kings hosted the MasterCard Memorial Cup in 2010, when they captured the Eastern Conference Title in 2015 and when Brandon captured the Ed Chynoweth Trophy as WHL Champions in 2016. “I’ve always been proud to be a Wheat King and I look forward to working with our staff to ensure this club continues to improve and become a consistently successful team.”
“Being a leader for our hockey club, I am excited about having the chance to help make this club the best that it can be,” he went on to say.
During his WHL playing days, Ritchie scored 152 goals (7th most in franchise history) and 278 points in 232 regular season career games. His best season came in 1994-94 when he recorded a team leading 62 goals and 114 points in 69 games. Not only was he named to the Eastern Conference First All Star Team, he was chosen winner of the Brad Hornung Trophy that goes to the league’s Most Sportsmanlike Player and he was instrumental in leading the Wheat Kings to the WHL Championship Final and a berth into the 1995 Memorial Cup in Kamloops.
Following his junior career, Darren spent nine seasons playing professional hockey in both North America and Europe.
“I am proud today to name Darren the general manager of our team,” says McCrimmon. “He has a tremendous background in the game in a variety of roles. This experience base will serve him well in his new position.”
“Darren has been a Wheat King for sixteen years and no one understands better what our organization is about,” McCrimmon went on to say.
Two of Ritchie’s most important moves should come shortly as he will be instrumental in leading the search for not only head coach but his replacement as director of scouting.
“Our search for a new head coach continues,” says the 45-year old Ritchie, who expects to have an announcement in the next week.
Ritchie and his wife Rhonda have two children – Quinn and Nolan.
In addition to McCrimmon, Ritchie joins a list of former GMs that include the likes of Bill Shinske, Les Jackson, Jack Brockest, Jim Foubister, Doug Clark, Rudy Pilous, Gerry Brisson, Ron Maxwell, Glen Lawson and Grant Armstrong.