Former Canuck player Schaefer out as coach/GM of Surrey Eagles

SURREY — The changes just keep coming among the management ranks of the Surrey Eagles.

On Tuesday afternoon the B.C. Hockey League club announced that head coach and general manager Peter Schaefer has stepped down from his duties. He will be replaced behind the bench by the team’s new director of player personnel, Blaine Neufeld.

The move comes on the heels of a shakeup of the club’s operational structure that began when Chuck Westgard bought out his partners to become sole owner of the team in May. The fallout from the move included Schaefer losing his title as team president.

Neufeld, who was hired by the Eagles in April, said it was a mutual decision when Schaefer stepped down from his coaching and GM duties this week.

“It’s been a positive transition all the way through,” Neufeld said. “Peter has been very open about being very willing to help out in any regard. We kind of made a decision all together that he would continue on with the club on a personal consulting basis where we would continue on with our relationship and I will lean on him from time to time as different situations come up.”

Schaefer could not be reached for comment before the Now’s press deadline.

Neufeld, 27, is a former goaltender with playing experience at the major junior (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat and Vancouver) and junior A (Winkler, Grande Prairie) levels. He was a member of the Vancouver Giants team that won the Memorial Cup in 2007.

After his playing days were done, Neufeld turned to coaching where he worked at the junior A and major midget levels in Manitoba before coming to British Columbia where most recently he coached at the South Delta Hockey Academy. His résumé also includes the experience of playing under noted major junior coaches Willie Desjardins in Medicine Hat and Don Hay in Vancouver.

With the latest moves, the Eagles hierarchy has received an almost complete makeover since the 2013-14 BCHL season ended with a first round playoff loss to Langley in March.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a completely new start,” Neufeld said. “We have a good core of boys coming back from last year that we will lean on. When there is change at the ownership or management level, you want to make sure that the culture is the way you want it to be and we’re excited about what we have created here.

“Our vision is starting to come together. We’ve been able to commit to four or five local kids and make trades for a couple more so we’re excited about the way things are coming together.”

The Eagles will open training camp Sept. 1 with their first two preseason games slated for Sept. 5 in Chilliwack and Sept. 6 at the North Surrey rec centre.

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