What we hear and remember most about hockey is the players who have shaped the game, from Wayne Gretzky to Mario Lemieux to Sidney Crosby.
However what we don’t hear much about, are the men who shaped those players, moulding them into the superstars they would become. The Oshawa Generals have had no shortage of star players like Bobby Orr, Eric Lindros, Marc Savard, and John Tavares to name a few. The Generals organization has gone through 30 coaches in its history, with some exemplary ones.
The first of these great coaches was Tracy Shaw, who famously led the Generals to their first two Memorial Cups in 1939 and 1940. Shaw coached the team from 1938 to 1942, having now famous players like legendary Billy Taylor, Albert “Red” Tilson, Bill Ezinicki, and Floyd “Busher” Curry under his wing. With his guidance, the four would become the building blocks for the Generals during that era and set the standard for professionalism and work ethic. Under his leadership, the team set the record for the best win percentages in back to back years, winning .929 and .938 percent of their games between 1938 and 1940.
Angus Bodnar, went by the nickname Gus, served five seasons as the Generals coach from 1971 to 1976.Bodnar enjoyed an illustrious playing career, winning two Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs, played in an All-Star Game in 1950, and set a record for the fastest goal by a rookie on their debut, scoring 15 seconds into the game. He also set a record by recording three assists in 21 seconds. As a coach, Bodnar had similar success, winning a Memorial Cup with the Toronto Marlboros before being named head coach of the Generals. Bodnar was voted the Coach of the Year for his team’s performance in the 1971-72 season in which the team had a record of 35-18-10 with 80 points. For his efforts and success, Bodnar was named to the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He passed away on July 1, 2005.
In 1979, the Generals hired Head Coach Paul Theriault, who would lead the team to nine consecutive winning seasons, including two Memorial Cup appearances. Theriault served two stints with the Generals from 1979 to 1980, and again from 1981 to 1989. He is the longest serving coach in Generals history. Theriault is credited with bringing back a winning culture to the Generals organization. He coached more than 600 games, in which he amassed 350 wins, 234 losses and 22 ties, while not once finishing below the .500 mark. His best year at the helm came in 1986-87 with a team that featured the likes of three 19-year-old stars in league-scoring champion Scott McCrory, eventual NHLers Derek King and Lee Giffin, all 100-plus point scorers.
That year the Generals set franchise records for points earned in a season (101) and most wins in a season (49), while earning the right to host the Memorial Cup. For this incredible season, Theriault was voted Coach of the Year and received the Matt Leyden Trophy. “As one of Paul’s former players, he had a profound effect on my development as an athlete, let alone a person, as he had with countless other players under his tutelage,” former Generals star Scott McCrory. Theriault unfortunalety suffers from irreverable effects of concussions he suffered back in his NCAA playing days.
Rick Cornacchia continued where Theriault left off in 1989.
After serving as his assistant coach for three seasons, Cornacchia was handed the reins to the team and led them to a Memorial Cup during his first season in 1990. During his five years as head coach, the Generals made the playoffs every year and went to the Memorial Cup twice. The team’s best season came in 1990 where they set their mark of 47-13-6 with 100 points, under the leadership of Cornacchia from the bench, and NHL Hall of Famer Eric Lindros on the ice. “We were a team of destiny because the guys had grown together as a group and supported each other and worked together and really believed in each other, believed in what we were doing and believed in the ultimate goal, which was to win the Cup,” said Cornacchia, summing up his legacy as a bench boss for the Generals. Cornacchia currently manages the National Training Rinks facility as the head instructor in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
The most recent Generals coach to lead his team to a MasterCard Memorial Cup is D.J. Smith who coached the team from 2012 to 2015. Smith played briefly in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche, before deciding that coaching was his passion. In just his second season behind the Generals’ bench, Smith guided the The most recent Generals coach to lead his team to a MasterCard Memorial Cup is D.J. Smith who coached the team from 2012 to 2015. Smith played briefly in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche, before deciding that coaching was his passion.
In just his second season behind the Generals’ bench, Smith guided the club their first East Division title since 1990-91 with their best regular season record in that span finishing the 2013-14 campaign with 90 points (42-20-0-6) atop the Eastern Conference standings. For that season he was the recipient of the Matt Leyden Trophy, given out to the OHL’s Coach of the Year.
He led the team to their most recent Memorial Cup win in 2015, ending a spell of 15 years without a trophy, with the help of Eric Wellwood. He worked with most of the current players on the Generals roster, players like Riley Stillman, Kenny Huether, and Jeremy Brodeur and has had a great impact on their careers and style of play. His success with the team did not go unnoticed , and following the memorial cup winning year, Smith was offered an assistant coaching job with the Maple Leafs, which he then accepted.
With Smith gone Oshawa needed a new head coach, someone who could continue moulding the winning team, Bob Jones is that man. Jones brings a winning mentality to the club, having two Memorial Cups under his belt as an assistant for the Windsor Spitfires. Jones began his coaching career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds where he spent three seasons as the assistant coach. After a year with the Brampton Battalion, Jones was the associate coach for the Toronto St. Michael’s Major for three seasons. Before his time in Windsor, he served as the assistant coach of the Sudbury Wolves, winning the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions in 2006-07. Like previous coaches behind the bench, he is looking to make a positive impact on his players and make the Oshawa Generals Memorial Cup winners once again, and with a 22-11-1-2, Jones’ team is on the right track.
Through 80 years of history, the Generals have had a list of 30 coaches, each with his own philosophy that he applied to the team, and each one of them has contributed greatly to the culture and background of the organization.