Twenty years after graduating from the Ontario Hockey League as a high scoring forward with the Sarnia Sting, Kris Newbury is back in the OHL as a newly hired assistant coach of the Windsor Spitfires.
The 41-year old Newbury will be the primary assistant under interim head coach Casey Torres. The surging Spitfires have a record of 6-4-0 since Torres was elevated from assistant coach to replace the fired Jerrod Smith 21 games into this season. The Spitfires were sputtering with a record of 4-16-1 when Smith was fired on November 20. Assistant coach Andy Delmore subsequently resigned following the firing of Smith, who was in his first season as the Spitfires head coach.
Spitfires general manager Billy Bowler, who has also been on the bench as an assistant to Torres following the firing of Smith, did his homework on Newbury before bringing him on board.
“We needed the help,” Bowler relayed to the Windsor Star. “We watch players as well as coaches and we believe Kris has a future as a coach and the timing to bring him in is perfect. His success as a player … hopefully some of those things will translate to our players.”
Newbury played five full seasons in the OHL, beginning with the erstwhile Belleville Bulls before finishing up in Sarnia. In three full seasons with the Sting, Newbury scored 104 goals and racked up more than 400 minutes in penalties. He later played pro for 17 years, including 79 games in the National Hockey League. Among the coaches who Newberry played for along the way were Mark Hunter in the OHL and Sault Ste. Marie’s Paul Maurice in the NHL.
As far as coaching since his retirement as a player in 2019, Newbury spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the Trenton Golden Hawks of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League while also serving as the bench boss of the under 16 AAA level Quinte Red Devils this season.
It is Newbury’s coaching experience at the minor hockey level that also made him enticing to Bowler as the Spitfires GM.
“That was really attractive to us,” Bowler said. “Not only does he have an extensive playing career, he has coached at the grass roots. The fact that (Newbury) likes to coach and train players at the minor hockey level … that is a guy who wants to be a coach.”