LOVELAND, CO – There will be a new coach on the Colorado Eagles bench next season, but Chris Stewart will not be far away.
Stewart, 55, announced Wednesday he will step down as head coach of the Eagles, but remain the team’s ECHL Governor, President and General Manager.
“An extensive search for the next head coach of the Colorado Eagles has already begun and we will diligently seek to find the best person to continue to move this organization in the right direction,” said Stewart. One would think that Eagles’ Assistant Coach and former defenseman, Aaron Schneekloth, is among the candidates to fill the position.
Stewart was the first person hired by Eagles founder Ralph Backstrom in 2002, arriving in Colorado with a CHL championship already on his resume, after winning the title with the Huntsville Channel Cats in 1999. He also spent three seasons behind the bench with San Antonio of the CHL, leading the Iguanas to the postseason in two of his three seasons as head coach.
While leading the Eagles in the Central Hockey League, Stewart compiled a 253-99-30 record (.662 win percentage); winning two Ray Miron President’s Cups (2005, 07); four CHL conference titles in seven seasons (2005, 07, 08, 11); five straight division titles from 2004-08; and securing a postseason berth in each of his six CHL seasons behind the Eagles’ bench. In 13 seasons behind a CHL bench (Huntsville Channel Cats, San Antonio Iguanas and Colorado Eagles,) Stewart built up an impressive 530-256-74 record (.616 win percentage), winning three league titles overall.
In the ECHL, Stewart put together a 187-135-37 record in five seasons (.521 winning percentage); winning the West Division title this past season and securing a playoff berth in each of the Eagles five seasons in the league. The missing crown from Stewart’s coaching resume is a Kelly Cup championship. His Eagles squads lost in the first round in each of their five playoff seasons.
More importantly, Stewart brought players like Greg Pankewicz, Ryan Tobler, Riley Nelson, Ed McGrane, Erik Adams, Darryl Bootland, Fraser Flipic, Trent Daavettila, Kevin Ulanski and countless other players into a hockey-starved area which helped develop the Eagles into a must-see attraction for those visiting the Front Range, thanks to their community outreach and winning product on the ice.
“I have been fortunate enough to spend over three decades in the world of coaching, an experience which has been so very rewarding. I very much look forward to continuing my work as the governor, president and general manager of this outstanding organization,” said Stewart. “The future of the Colorado Eagles is extremely bright and what we have in store over the next several months will prove that to our expanding fanbase, which is the absolute best in the ECHL.”