I don't know as much about Minnesota's ECHL affiliate Orlando as I'd like other than thinking Shades is the coolest mascot this side of the University of Alaska hockeybear. I can admit that. The Solar Bears had a tough first season as an organization, going 28-37-3 while finishing a distant last in the South Division, and being home to Wild draft picks like Kyle Medvec and Sean Lorenz.
And they'll have to take the next step without their coach.
Orlando announced Thursday that head coach Drake Berehowsky will not return to the Solar Bears. While it doesn't read like a firing - sounds like Berehowsky is heading to the WHL - the team still needs to find its second head coach in as many years.
"Drake put a good foundation in place," said Bob Ohrablo, COO and Managing Partner of the Solar Bears, in a statement released by the team. "He is both a teacher and student of the game. We wish him and his family success."
A search is underway for the next head coach.
Regardless of the coaching situation, Orlando still has Shades although if our favorite Solars Bears blog (O-Town Solar Bears Nation - check it out) tells us anything, the mascot isn't being used to its full potential:
How often do you see Shades? (jumbotron sign holding doesn't count) Don't let Shades be afraid of the light, have him out more, get him involved with the game. Let him paw on the glass and "intimidate" the other team. Let him wreak havoc in the stands, silly string screw around with opposing teams' fans, steal their left shoe. Also, take that hula-hoop out of Shades, he's too fat, which contributes to the limitations of the costume