Matt O’Dette has been named the Seattle Thunderbirds new head coach.
O’Dette, the franchise’s 17th head coach, replaces Steve Konowalchuk, who joined the Anaheim Ducks as an assistant coach on June 28.
“We were lucky to have a very good coach already on our staff and are excited to promote Matt to our head coach,” said Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell, who made the official announcement Wednesday. “He was a huge contributor to our team the last few years and has proven he is ready to take over the head coaching duties.”
“I am honored to be named the head coach of the T-Birds,” O’Dette said. “I want to thank Russ Farwell for the opportunity, as it has been a goal of mine to be a head coach at the major junior level. I am very appreciative of the opportunity Steve Konowalchuk gave me four years ago. We’ve created a winning culture and I look forward to that continuing in front of our amazing fans.”
O’Dette joined the T-Birds as an assistant coach on July 23, 2013, focusing on defense. Under his tutelage, two of the last three WHL (Western Hockey League) Defenseman of the Year Award winners have been T-Birds. Shea Theodore was named the 2015 WHL Defenseman of the Year and Ethan Bear was named the 2017 WHL Defenseman of the Year. Theodore and Bear were twice named Western Conference First-Team All-Stars under his guidance.
O’Dette directed the T-Birds penalty-killing unit, which finished third in the league last season and first overall in 2015-16. The T-Birds have been in the top four in goals against the last three seasons, finishing third in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and tied for fourth in 2016-17.
Prior to joining the T-Birds O’Dette was the head coach and director of hockey operations for the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL for two seasons. Prior to joining the Condors he was an assistant coach and assistant general manager of the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.
He played 663 professional games over 14 professional seasons in the AHL and ECHL with the Roanoke Express (ECHL 1996-97), Saint John Flames (AHL 1997-2000), Quebec Citadelles (AHL 2000-02), Hamilton Bulldogs (2002-03), Fresno Falcons (ECHL 2004-09) and Falcons/Thunder (ECHL 2009-10). He also appeared in 69 playoffs games and was a member of two Calder Cup Final teams.
O’Dette played 183 career games as a defenseman in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Florida Panthers selected him in the seventh round, 157th overall, of the 1994 NHL Draft.
The T-Birds have begun the search for assistant coaches in order to complete O’Dette’s staff by to start of the season.
The WHL champion T-Birds start the 2017-18 regular season against the Tri-City Americans at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at the ShoWare Center.
For more information, including ticket purchases, visit seattlethunderbirds.com.