Colts hire Warren Rychel as coach after Dale Hawerchuk takes leave

Warren Rychel is the new head coach of the Barrie Colts. (Credit: Barrie Colts)

Warren Rychel is back in the Ontario Hockey League just two months after stepping away from the Windsor Spitfires.

The 52-year-old was hired by the Barrie Colts as their new head coach Monday after Dale Hawerchuk announced last week he was taking a leave of absence due to health reasons.

Rychel said in a statement he was thrilled to be joining the Colts, but the circumstances weren’t the best.

“I have huge respect for Dale Hawerchuk and first and foremost my thoughts are with him and his family,” Rychel said. “I’ve known Howie and the Colts organization for many years and I know this is a top-notch OHL team. I’ll do my best to work with the organization and the players to bring home a great season.”

Rychel was an owner and general manager with the Spitfires from 2006 until 2019 before leaving his duties in July. He told the Windsor Star at the time he needed a new challenge.

He helped Windsor win three Memorial Cups in 2009, ’10 and ’17 along with OHL championships in both 2009 and ’10. Rychel’s efforts were rewarded in 2009 when he was named the OHL executive of the year.

Rychel won a Stanley Cup as a player with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

He takes over a Barrie franchise that missed the playoffs last year after posting a 26-38-4 record.

Colts president Howie Campbell said in a statement that the team felt it needed to bring in a veteran to lead the team this season.

“We consulted with many people, including Dale Hawerchuk, and we all agreed that Warren is the right man for the job,” Campbell said. “It’s been a very difficult couple of weeks, but we are confident that Warren can help guide us to where we need to be. We’ve been building this team for a while and we feel we have the team to have a good run this year.”

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