Less than three weeks before the start of the Western Hockey League season, Moose Jaw Warriors general manager Alan Millar has stepped down to accept a position with Hockey Canada.

Nonetheless, Millar told a zoom media conference Monday that he's excited for the start of the Western Hockey League season, as he prepares to be Hockey Canada's director of player personnel for the program of excellence.

“I’m going to be working out of Moose Jaw remotely,” Millar said. “I’m still working in the office here. There’s been excellent co-operation between Hockey Canada and our board, in particular (Hockey Canada’s) Scott Salmond and (Warriors president) Chad Taylor. While I’ll start engaging in some work with Hockey Canada, it’s really important for me to lead the group here as we get ready to go into the Regina hub, and support our board, and to support our staff on the management transition.”

That transition won’t be hurried. Taylor said they've got time on their hands, and he'll have a conversation with assistant general manager Jason Ripplinger about his interest in the general manager's job.

“I think the bigger question, is Mr. Ripplinger ready to take on the new role,” Taylor said. “I’m looking forward to sitting down with Jason and see where his thoughts are. I’m sure he’s interested in the job. And my job is to make sure we bring the best person forward for the board to make a decision.”

The 45-year-old Ripplinger has been with the Warriors since 2018 as assistant general manager after over a decade and a half as a scout and director of player personnel with the Vancouver Giants.

Millar said that he and his wife Kelly will eventually move to Calgary. Millar began his hockey management career as director of hockey operations and alternate governor with the Saint John Flames in 1993. From there, he moved to become the general manager of the Guelph Storm, a position he held for six seasons. After another six-year stint with the Sarnia Sting, he joined the Warriors in 2010.

At the time of Millar's hiring in 2010, Taylor said: "Alan brings a wide range of experience and is well respected by many of the WHL owners and General Managers within our league...He is someone that we feel very confident in being the face of the organization and an individual who will complement our current hockey operation staff.”

In Monday's Zoom media conference, Taylor praised his professionalism and the culture change Millar brought to the team.

“Alan is well-versed with all levels of the Program of Excellence, and the invaluable experience he brings will make him a key addition to our staff,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada in a statement. “He has extensive knowledge when it comes to evaluating players in the Canadian Hockey League, including the Canada-Russia Series, and for Hockey Canada’s national teams.

“His insight and leadership will assist us not just when it comes to athlete development, but in recognizing the athlete skill set it takes to compete on the international stage.”

Millar’s role with Hockey Canada will officially begin March 1.

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