Tim Speltz spent more than 25 years building a WHL power in eastern Washington.
Now he'll attempt to build another successful hockey club, but on a much, much, larger scale.
The Spokane Chiefs announced Tuesday that Speltz has accepted a position in the scouting department with the Toronto Maple Leafs and will be leaving the club. Speltz was named Director of Western Scouting for the Maple Leafs, but will continue to reside in the Spokane area with his family.
Speltz help develop one of the WHL's best franchises during his employment with the Chiefs. Since his arrival in 1990, the Chiefs reached the playoffs in 23 of 26 seasons, capturing league titles in 1991 and 2008. They also won two Memorial Cups in those same years.
He also aided in the development of future NHL stars like Jared Cowen, Michael Grabner and Jared Spurgeon. Speltz also had the eye to pick a local kid in the 11th round of the 2005 Bantam Draft, maybe the best 11th round pick in WHL history. Tyler Johnson would go on to lead the league in scoring in his overage year before joining the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he's become a household name.
The announcement comes at a peculiar time, with WHL camps starting next week. The Chiefs say Speltz will remain with the club through training camp, which runs August 25-28 at the Spokane Arena. He will also help in the transition.
Spokane wasn't the only place he helped develop teams during his 26-year tenure. Speltz helped Team Canada leadership decide on rosters for prominent tournaments like the U18 Ivan Hlinka and U20 World Junior Championship teams.
The club says it will "immediately begin a search for a new general manager."
Although the club has implied the search for a replacement is underway, it wouldn't surprise me if the club promotes head coach Don Nachbaur to a dual-coaching/GM role for this season. Nachbaur, himself having spent decades around the league, has the skills to develop and the eye for talent necessary to construct a solid junior club.
That would also allow the proper time to search for a capable and qualified candidate. At this point, in mid-August, I'm just not sure the right fit is sitting around out there waiting for an offer like this. It may take until next summer for the Chiefs to find the right fit.