Lincs’ Coach Malinowski Gone – by C. Scott Holland
Just when many fans and pundits had thought that the St. Marys Lincolns seemed to have begun an upward transition, Lincs’ head coach Merlin Malinowski is no longer with the Junior B team.
That move came on Sun. Nov. 1.
Early reports are conflicting as to whether Malinowski resigned or whether he was asked to step down.
Either way Lincs President Steve Stapleton did say that the remaining assistant coaches Jason Glover, who played for the Lincs in 1992/93, Rick O’Donnell, and Jason Ross are still with the team.
It had been expected that Malinowski would turn the franchise’s fortunes around and while it was yet another dismal season last year when he returned as head coach, it was expected that some progress would be made during the current season.
But that hasn’t happened yet, although recently the Lincs have played many tougher teams much better and have shown signs of becoming competitive. However being mired in last place with only two wins and a tie plus two overtime loses has left the Lincolns still an arm’s length away from rising to a playoff rung.
Malinowski began coaching the Lincolns in 2003/04 and lasted until the end of 2009/10 compiling a record of 197 wins , 143 losses along with 10 overtime defeats and 12 shootout losses.
Once during that tenure he lost the playoff final (to Chatham). But in the last two seasons over the course of 65 games his squad has managed just four victories, 53 losses, a tie, four OT losses and 2 shootout losses.
While the last two seasons have not gone well for him, the team had shown improvement. An October 18th 3-3 tie after double overtime against London seemed to be a positive turning point.
Malinowski’s decision to step away was apparently by “mutual agreement” according to St. Marys’ newspaper columnist Pat Payton.
Lincolns’ GM Dustin Wenger has yet to name a replacement so for their Thursday November 5 game at Sarnia and Friday November 6 home game vs Strathroy. It is expected the assistants will handle the bench.
Merlin leaves the Lincolns and GOJHL with an overall record of 407 games coached, 201 wins, 176 losses, 1 tie, with 14 overtime and shootout losses and certainly he had raised the expectations of the players he had coached. Good luck to him in all his future endeavours.
A native of North Battlefield, Saskatchewan, Merlin was a second round pick, 27th overall in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft by the Colorado Rockies. Over his NHL career he played for Colorado, the Hartford Whalers and the New Jersey Devils. After playing in the Swiss league for three seasons, Merlin finished his playing days with the Canadian National Team in 1987-88. He scored 54 goals and added 111 assists for 165 points and 121 PIM in 282 career NHL games.
In his final year of Junior A hockey in 1977-78, Merlin was a scoring star with the Medicine Hat Tigers scoring 48 goals and 126 points in 72 games.