By @MichaelCaples –
As the Kalamazoo Wings prepare for the upcoming 2016-17 ECHL season, they took care of some front office moves yesterday.
The ECHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning signed head coach Nick Bootland to a three-year extension, while also announcing the hiring of Joel Kwiatkowski as an assistant coach.
Bootland, 38, has been the K-Wings’ bench boss since 2008.
“Nick (Bootland) has been an ambassador in this community over the course of the last dozen years,” said Michael Oswald, Greenleaf Hospitality Group’s vice president of food, beverage and entertainment. “We’re thrilled for him to remain in Kalamazoo and deliver this city a Kelly Cup in the seasons to come.”
Bootland is the winningest coach in Kalamazoo franchise history, having racked up 314 victories over nine seasons.
“I’m truly thankful to Mr. (William D.) Johnston and Ms. (Ronda) Stryker,” Bootland said. “When your beliefs and values line up with your ownership group, it really makes your job a lot easier. The fact that they continue to support this community the way they do is tremendous, and their ongoing investments in this building make it even better for the people in Southwest Michigan to come and visit.”
In Kwiatkowski, the K-Wings are adding a former player with 18 years of professional hockey seasons worth of knowledge to call on. He’s familiar with West Michigan, as well; Kwiatkowski played for the Grand Rapids Griffins for two seasons from 2000-02. He has NHL, AHL, IAHL, WHL, KHL and Swiss pro experience.
“It’s exciting. It’s a good transition from playing to coaching,” Kwiatkowski said. “I love Michigan. I live in Michigan. And with the K-Wings, I think it’s a perfect opportunity to get a different part of my career going.”