Robert Dirk named new Head Coach and GM of Penticton Lakers
The Okanagan Hockey Academy announced today that Robert Dirk has been named Head Coach and General Manager of the Penticton Lakers.
Robert Dirk joined the Okanagan Hockey Academy after a 20-year professional playing and coaching career. He was selected 53rd overall by the St. Louis Blues. In 1991, he appeared in 41 games with the Blues before being moved to the Vancouver Canucks. He spent three full seasons with the Canucks, and then was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline, narrowly missing the infamous 1994 Stanley Cup run that spring. After Chicago, Dirk signed with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, for the 1994–95 season. After a season and a half with the Ducks, he was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in 1996. However, he would fracture his shoulder, essentially ending his NHL career. He finished his career with 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points in 402 career games, along with 786 penalty minutes.
Following his retirement in 1997, Dirk accepted a head coach job in the UHL with the Winston-Salem Icehawks, with whom he earned the title of UHL Coach of the Year. He spent two more seasons in the UHL with the Saginaw Gears. He then spent two seasons with the WCHL’s Tacoma Sabercats, after which he worked as the WCHL’s VP of Hockey Operations. Dirk was then hired as the first head coach of the Texas Wildcatters of the ECHL. In 2007, Dirk joined the Okanagan Hockey Academy staff, coaching a variety of levels and leading the Okanagan Hockey School’s summer defenseman camp.
"This is a great chance for me to coach and mentor players at the Junior level," said Dirk. "I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Okanagan Hockey Academy and I’m excited for the seasons ahead. With the Lakers, I will be developing a team style that is smart and responsible defensively, one that wins races and battles…a team that is willing to sacrifice both on and off the ice. For the new Lakers, character is key."
Andy Oakes, President of the Okanagan Hockey Academy, believes that Dirk will be a perfect fit for the Lakers.
"We’re very excited to see Dirk take on this new challenge," said Oakes. "Without a doubt he was the best choice for the job. His players will continue to learn from his extensive experience both on the ice and behind the bench. The Lakers team is under construction at the present moment and Robert is already doing a great job getting the players he wants to have play for him that will meet his style of play."