By: Lanny Stewart
Dale Lewis is stepping down from his role as assistant coach of the Virden Oil Capitals.
Lewis has been part of the organization since the club first moved from Winnipeg to Virden back in 2012. He spent the first five years of his time with the club as the team president, before transitioning to behind the bench for the 2017-2018 campaign as an assistant coach.
Lewis says he’s stepping away from the Oil Caps for multiple reasons.
“First, I want to be able to focus on my son and his hockey goals,” he said. “The massive amount of time required to coach, and do it right, took me away from a lot of his hockey this past winter.”
Lewis’ son Braeden is now affiliated with the Oil Caps as he was recently auto-protected by Virden prior to the MJHL Bantam Draft.
“I feel it’s in his best interest that I remove myself from the Oil Caps picture,” Lewis said. “This is his journey and I don’t want anything to distract from that. Sometimes perceptions can be harmful, and I don’t want that to end up affecting him in any way.”
Lewis is also a local business owner/part owner of Safety Source, Diversified Oilfield Services and is the general manger of Discovery Safety Services.
“My staff at all the businesses picked up a lot of slack and I’m very fortunate that I have them so that I could focus on coaching,” Lewis said.
He wishes the organization nothing but success in the future and believes the club is something the community can always rally behind – which was evident this past season as the club reached the MJHL championship final.
“Our recent run to the MJHL finals was both exciting but disappointing at the same time,” he said. “Exciting as it was a goal we had from Day 1 to get to that spot. Disappointing as I really believe we had a team to win it all and we were so very close.”
Looking back, he says getting the opportunity to watch his oldest son Tanner wear the Oil Caps colours was truly a proud moment for him and his wife Tracy. Tanner spent nearly two and a half seasons with the Oil Caps from 2014-2016.
He says watching former Oil Caps players continue their hockey careers – such as Wyatt Kalynuk, who was drafted by the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers last year and Zach Whitecloud, who recently signed an entry-level deal with the Vegas Golden Knights, eventually making his debut with the club in April – is a true testament to the organization as a whole and the coaching staff over the years.
He also credited the fans and corporate support of the club, noting that the team is truly fortunate to have that as it allows the team to operate as a first-class organization.
Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations, says Lewis has done a tremendous amount of work for the hockey club over the years and is appreciative for everything he’s helped build since the club first arrived in Virden.
“In his first five years in the boardroom role as president of the club, Dale helped and thought through with the board of directors different marketing efforts and team initiatives the club made during this period,” Hodson said.
As an assistant coach this past season, Lewis’ experience helped and brought a calm demeanour on our bench in combination with Troy (Leslie), Hodson says.
“Both on and off the ice, he has his fingerprints on the team in many ways, shapes and forms,” he added. “We wish nothing but the best for Dale moving forward.”
Hodson says as soon as Braeden became affiliated with the Oil Caps organization, Lewis had expressed interest in stepping aside and letting his son grow and mature in the organization on his own.
“I think mutually with the hockey club, this is a decision which is best for Braeden, Dale and the hockey club in the near-term future.”
Troy Leslie, head coach and GM of the Oil Caps, says the tragic incident involving the Humboldt Broncos has made everyone in hockey circles become that much more reflective and aware of what is truly important. Leslie says he understands Lewis’ decision to leave the organization, with family being one of the main reasons for it.
“In saying that, everyone involved in the game has always had a small group of people who have aided and supported them along the way and Dale has been one of those people for me,” Leslie said. “Dale has afforded me the opportunity to be part of the Virden Oil Capitals organization and continue to be part of the game in southwestern Manitoba and I’m very thankful for that. Dale’s contributions to this organization are immeasurable. It was great to share this year’s experience alongside Dale in what was a special season for the Virden Oil Capitals organization.”
The Oil Caps have now begun their search for a new assistant coach.
Just a friendly reminder: Oil Caps season tickets are on sale! Purchase your tickets today!
Early bird prices are still in effect.
Adult tickets: $225
Senior tickets: $185
Youth tickets: $110
Family tickets (two adult and two youth): $590