George Burnett named Storm’s head coach/GM

GUELPH – George Burnett has been named the head coach and general manager of the OHL’s Guelph Storm.

Burnett replaces Jarrod Skalde as head coach and Mike Kelly as general manager. Skalde and the Storm parted ways earlier this month and Kelly announced two months ago that he’d be stepping down from the general manager’s position when his contract was up.

Burnett joins the Storm from the Flint Firebirds where he served as the team’s GM this season. The Firebirds finished seventh in the Western Conference at 32-28-3-5, good for 72 points. The Storm was 10th, 23 points behind Flint.

In a related move in the league Monday, Barclay Branch resigned as general manager and head scout of the Sudbury Wolves to become Flint’s vice president of hockey operations and general manager. Rob Papineau becomes general manager of the Wolves.

For Burnett, the move is a return to the Storm. He coached the team to the OHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup in the 1997-98 season in a return to junior hockey following five seasons as a head coach in pro hockey, including the 1994-95 season when he started the campaign as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. He was fired following a 12-20-3 start.

After his 42-17-6-1 regular-season campaign with the Storm, his only OHL championship season, Burnett returned to the pro ranks as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for two seasons before coming back to junior hockey as head coach and GM of the Oshawa Generals.

He has held both the head coach and GM titles for 19 of his 21 years in the OHL. As well as the Storm, Flint and Oshawa, Burnett has been with the Niagara Falls Thunder and Belleville Bulls/Hamilton Bulldogs. He has been the coach/general manager for 1,266 regular-season games during which his teams amassed 594 wins, 543 losses, 45 ties and 84 overtime or shootout losses.

While Burnett won the OHL title with the Storm, he also reached the OHL final with Belleville in 2007-08, but his teams also missed the playoffs four times. He also coached the Cape Breton Oilers to the American Hockey League championship in the 1992-93 season.

Burnett played three seasons in the OHL, all with the London Knights, beginning with the 1979-80 season. He had 57 goals and 140 assists in 203 games before joining the McGill Redmen for three seasons of Canadian university hockey. He finished with 45 goals and 101 assists in 84 games with McGill.

  • Guelph Sports Journal