Nelson Minor Hockey alumnus Jim Hiller has been named an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings.
Hiller returns to the NHL for the first time since the 1993-94 season. He played for the Red Wings briefly and has spent most of the last decade coaching in the Western Hockey League.
“There are always challenges when you’re a coach. I did play in the NHL, so I kind of understand the mentality of what it’s like to be an NHL player and the type of feedback those players want and need,” Hiller told the Detroit Free Press.
Hiller, 45, grew up in Nelson where he played minor hockey until the midget level. He moved to Saskatchewan in 1987 to play Junior A. He also played at the college level with Northern Michigan University and was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1989. His NHL career only lasted 63 games, but he found professional success during six seasons in Germany and Italy.
Hiller said in his new role he will focus on Detroit’s offence, which includes stars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. “That’s pretty exciting for anybody to be around,” he said.
Hiller replaces Tom Renney, another coach with Kootenay connections, who left to become the president of Hockey Canada.
Several assistants to Detroit head coach Mike Babcock have gone on to NHL head coaching positions themselves.