CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League, in conjunction with the National Hockey League Coaches’ Association, announced Tuesday that Rob Pearson of the Pickering Panthers (OJHL) has been named the 2021-22 recipient of the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, emblematic of CJHL Coach of the Year.
This prestigious honour, presented annually by the CJHL and NHLCA, is in memory of Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant Mark Cross, who were among those who sadly lost their lives following the tragic events of April 6, 2018.
Pearson garnered the laurels over fellow coach of the year finalists: Ryan Papaioannou, Brooks Bandits (AJHL); Rick Dorval, Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL); Laurie Barron, Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL); Brandon Perry, Timmins Rock (NOJHL) and Brayden Klimosko, Battlefords North Stars (SJHL), following a national voting process completed by each of the nine leagues that comprise the CJHL.
“One of the main responsibilities of our Association is to support the development of the next generation of NHL coaches,” said Michael Hirshfeld, Executive Director of the NHLCA. “Coaches are important leaders within their communities, serving as role models at every level of the game. Alongside our members, we are committed to supporting them both on and off the ice.”
Pearson, who also serves as Pickering’s general manager, led the Panthers to a 39-11-0-4 regular season record to capture their second straight Ontario Junior Hockey League North Division regular season title and finish a mere one point out of first overall in the 21-team OJHL.
The former NHLer has spent the past four seasons behind the bench in the OJHL.
In 2019-20, Pearson, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 1989, led Pickering to top spot in the OJHL North with a solid 32-18-2-2 mark.
The Panthers will also be recognized with a CAD $5,000 contribution to their team on behalf of the NHLCA as well as CAD $5,000 worth of Bauer Hockey equipment.
“The hockey community extends beyond players and goalkeepers. It includes parents, trainers, officials and many others who help make our game exciting and teach life lessons through sports,” said Mary-Kay Messier, VP of Global Marketing, Bauer Hockey. “Coaches play such an important role in shaping tomorrow’s leaders and using hockey to build character on and off the ice. We are proud to work with the NHL Coaches’ Association and recognize the immense value coaches provide to our game.”
This year’s CJHL Coach of the Year award will be formally presented virtually during the NHLCA’s Global Coaches’ Clinic, which is taking place online the week of June 13-17.
Pearson and his entire coaching staff will be invited, as honourary guests, to take part in the upcoming Online Clinic.
Additionally, Pearson will be invited as a special guest of the NHLCA to attend the in-person clinic taking place on July 7 in Montreal prior to the NHL Draft®.
With files from Jim Mason, Director of Communications (OJHL)
Photo credit: Amy Deroche/OJHL Images
ABOUT THE NHL COACHES’ ASSOCIATION (NHLCA): The NHL Coaches’ Association is a professional organization that provides support and assistance to the head, associate, assistant, goalie and video coaches of the 32 teams in the National Hockey League. Recognized and supported by the NHL, the NHLCA and its members seek to develop future coaches, give back to the hockey community, and grow the game of hockey globally. One of the Association’s primary objectives is to help develop all hockey coaches from the youth level up to the highest levels of hockey, as the NHLCA strongly believes that coaches are important leaders within their communities, serving as role models at every level of the game. Together, the NHLCA and their members are committed to supporting all coaches in their initiatives of guiding, motivating, and inspiring players of all ages.