(Submitted by Stephen Heisler/JuniorHockey.ca)
Bliss Littler has broken down the door on the 700 win club only to find no other junior coaches in the room. Littler’s career as a head coach spans 23 years and five stops in the American Frontier Hockey League, American West Hockey League, United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League and now the British Columbia Hockey League.
Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville, Al Arbour, and Ken Hitchcock have eclipsed the mark in the National Hockey League. Jerry York, Ron Mason, Jack Parker, Red Berenson, Rick Comley, and Bob Peters have done it at the college level. Norwich University’s Mike McShane is getting close.
Littler contributes his success to the team owners and staff’s he been able to assemble.
“I’ve been lucky to work for some of junior hockey’s best owners ever,” Littler said on Sunday. “I really appreciate owners Robin and Eric Bonanno and Butch Johnson, Ted Baer from teams past and now Lisa and David White with Wenatchee. They allowed me to hire great people as assistant coaches, trainers and equipment managers.”
Littler’s reached the coaching milestone when his Wenatchee Wild defeated the Langley Rivermen 4-3 in double OT on Friday night.
Already USA Hockey’s winningest coach before his Wild joined the BCHL this season, Littler’s hard work simply continues to pay off.
“It takes a complete team. From the owner down to the volunteers,” Littler continued. “We have had tremendous housing families. All of these help create a culture that players can thrive in.”
Littler also acknowledged the effort of the players.
“The most important thing has always been the players,” Littler concluded. “We have had the privilege to bring in outstanding young men that have learned early on that it’s the players that wins games, not coaches.”
Littler has also been involved in USA Hockey National Teams. Most recently he served as an assistant on the 2011 and 2008 U.S. Junior Select Teams that competed at the World Junior A Challenge. The 2011 team won the bronze medal while the 2008 squad captured the gold medal. Littler was also an assistant coach on the 2000 and 1997 USA 19 and under teams that won gold medals. In 2002, he served as head coach of the USA 19 and under team.