Wildcats Name New Coach

From the Wichita Falls Wildcats:

"The Wichita Falls Wildcats announced today that Paul Baxter will be the team's new head coach, general manager of hockey operations, and partner effective May 1.  Baxter previously held the same titles with the NAHL's Wenatchee Wild from 2008 through 2010.

Baxter is a thirteen-year veteran of professional hockey as a player, having appeared in 762 games in the NHL and WHA with five teams including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames. Though he was often known for a rough-and-tumble style of play as one of only three NHL players to total 400 penalty minutes in a season, he also was an excellent puck-moving defenseman with a pair of ten-goal seasons to his credit. Paul is also an "Honoured Member" of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

In his coaching career, Baxter has held the reins as the head coach of the IHL's Salt Lake Golden Eagles, the AHL's Saint John Flames, and HIFK Helsinki in the Finnish SM-liiga in addition to his time in Wenatchee. With Wenatchee, he took the Wild to two Robertson Cup Tournaments including getting to the championship game in the Wild's very first season.  Paul also has been an assistant coach in the NHL with four organizations.

Baxter replaces Mark LeRose as head coach after his contract was not renewed at the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season."

Baxter played for the Quebec Nordiques, Pittsburgh, and Calgary, before becoming an assistant at the NHL level for the Flames as well as for Chicago, San Jose and Florida.

According to Wildcats co-owner Roy Davoult, who spoke to Newschannel 6 on the phone Thursday night, Baxter's contract will be a five-year deal.

Baxter is the team's fourth head coach in the last 16 months, following LeRose, Mike Flanagan, and John Bowkus, who was fired 16 months ago to the day, on January 21, 2010.

A decision on assistant coaches is not expected until about June, according to Davoult.