Say this about the work stoppage — it might have kickstarted a few coaching careers.
That was the word out of Edmonton on Wednesday as 630 CHED Sports radio host Dan Tencer spoke with Mark Letestu, the Columbus Blue Jackets forward that’s currently serving as an assistant coach with Bonnyville of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Letestu, an Alberta native, spent three years playing for Bonnyville before joining Western Michigan University for one season. Pittsburgh signed him as a undrafted free agent in 2007 and, after making his way to the NHL and posting an impressive 2010-11 campaign (14G-13A in 64 games), he was acquired by Columbus last November.
The 27-year-old thrived with the Blue Jackets — scoring 11G-13A-24 points in just 51 games, averaging a career-high 16:15 minutes per game — and now has plenty to offer the Bonnyville team, currently playing in Canada’s second-highest junior hockey tier.
“Hopefully I can [the players] with some of the lessons I had to learn,” Letestu explained. “Some of the trials and tribulations I went through — maybe help them avoid some of them and make their progression a little quicker.”
As mentioned above, Letestu isn’t the only locked-out NHLers to have taken a coaching gig:
— Florida’s Kris Versteeg is behind the bench for the University of Lethbridge. (link)
– Columbus’ RJ Umberger is doing volunteer work at his alma mater, Ohio State. (link)
– Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne joined the staff of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. (link)
– Toronto’s John-Michael Liles is behind the bench at Culver Academy in Indiana. (link)
In a similar vein, veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson was reportedly offered the goaile coaching gig in Toronto, but turned it down to continue his playing career.