French Not Returning as Bears’ Coach

The Hershey Bears announced on Friday morning that they will have a new head coach for the 2013-14 season. The team announced that Mark French, head coach for the last four seasons, will not return to the Bears next season. There was no announcement on the status of assistant coach Troy Mann.

“We commend Mark for his commitment, leadership and diligent work with the Hershey Bears,” Yingst announced on the team website.  “He is an excellent coach and an even better person.  We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

French posted a 60-win season in Hershey’s Calder Cup 2009-2010 season, along with becoming the fastest coach to reach 100 career AHL wins on March 11th, 2011. He leaves Chocolate town fifth all time in wins (180) in Hershey Bears history, behind John Paddock.  French was named head coach on July 13, 2009.

Hershey won 24 straight home games during their 2009-2010 Calder Cup run, part of 34 wins in the home building. Their largest winning streak was 12 games that season, along with 26 wins away from Giant Center. During their Calder Cup run, the Bears become the first team in AHL history to win the championship after falling behind 2-0 in the finals. He posted an AHL record eight overtime wins during the playoffs in Hershey’s 11th championship season.

Before becoming the head coach, French held the assistant role under former Hershey bench boss Bob Woods. He was also the head coach and director of Hockey Operations for the Wichita Thunder (CHL) from 2005-2007. He previously played his college hockey at Brock University and served as Captain for three seasons before stepping into hockey operations. He is a native of Milton, Ontario.

The Bears will begin the search for the 24th head coach in team history, which could include an opportunity for assistant coach Troy Mann. He was named assistant coach on July 13th, 2009, the same day French was named head coach. He led a highly touted defense this season, which included the promotion of Steve Oleksy and Tomas Kundratek to the NHL for large chunks of the season. Oleksy signed a three year entry level contract with the Washington Capitals this season.

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