Chill heats up with head coach hiring of former Bluesman Jamie Rivers
By: Michael R. Smith
St. Charles’ new professional hockey team, the St. Charles Chill, announced on Sept. 17 that former Blues defenseman Jamie Rivers will be the minor league team’s new head coach.
Chill President and General Manager Nicole Kupaks said the hiring fills a crucial part of her playbook. Besides his professional hockey skills, she said Rivers also satisfied her other requirements for the position as a “solid citizen,” a person “who will shake hands in the community,” and someone with a “Blues pedigree.”
The last point was “most important because (The Chill) wanted to be a partner with the Blues,” Kupaks said.
The Chill is affiliated with the Central Hockey League. The new team is relocating from Laredo,Texas, and will begin play in fall 2013.
Kupaks said, though she received hundreds of applicants for the position, Rivers’ name “just kept coming up” as she talked with area people and the hockey community.
Rivers said he’s excited about his new role and “looking forward to giving the people of St. Charles a winning hockey club — one they can be proud of.”
He said of his coaching style, “I’m sure there will times when Mike Keenan comes out. Hopefully, there will be more Scotty Bowman moments.”
Keenan had fiery relationships with Blues players at times during his term as head coach from 1994 to 1997, while Bowman coached the team from 1967 to 1971 and took it to the Stanley Cup playoffs the first three years.
Rivers was selected by the Blues in the NHL’s third-round draft in 1993. He played in the Ontario and American hockey leagues until 1995 when he got the nod from the Blues. He played with them until 1999 with the exception of the 1996-97 season when he was back in the AHL. He rejoined the Blues in the 2006-07 season. He also played with a number of other NHL teams, including the Bruins, Islanders, Red Wings, and Senators.
In the 2010-11 hockey season a spleen injury from a game check while playing in Austria ended his hockey career.
He was with the Blues when he met Shannon, a St. Charles resident. The couple now lives in Cottleville with their four children, and he has been serving the city on their planning and zoning commission.