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MOB part ways with Keca; Dupas to assume Head Coach/GM duties

Fort McMurray Oil Barons bench/Dan Lines Photography

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons made a major announcement Friday when the organization announced they had parted ways with Head Coach and General Manager Tom Keca.

Keca had been in that role for the past four seasons and was entering the final year of his contract.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to agree on terms with Tom to extend his contract beyond next season. In light of this, we decided that it was best for the organization to move in a different direction next season,” said Oil Barons President David Fitzgerald. “We’d like to thank Tom for his leadership and contributions over the past four seasons. He’s an integral part of our community and we wish him all the best moving forward.”

The club announced that Assistant Coach Dave Dupas will assume the Head Coach and General Manager duties on an interim basis until a final decision is made by the Board of Directors.

A local product out of Fort McMurray, Keca was in his fourth stint with the club. He finished his junior hockey career with the MOB in the early 1990s before becoming an Assistant Coach for the 2000-2001 season. He took his first Head Coaching job with the Lloydminster Bobcats in 2006 and after four years returned to the MOB as an Assistant Coach under Gord Thibodeau.

After a one year hiatus in the 2014-15 season, Keca was hired as the club’s Head Coach ahead of the 2015-16 season replacing Curtis Hunt.

The MOB struggled in Keca’s first year as a Head Coach finishing in 7th place in the North Division with a 10-40-10 record. But the following year, he guided the club to a first place finish in the North for the first time in a decade. A 61 point difference and a 44-13-3 record but the club fizzled out in the North Final, falling to the Whitecourt Wolverines in six games.

Keca was recognized for his incredible turn around with the club as he was named the AJHL’s Coach of the Year.

The Oil Barons have finished in second and fourth place the past two years in the North Division with both seasons ending in the second round of the playoffs.

“As an organization, this is one of the toughest decisions we have had to make,” said Fitzgerald.

Keca finished with a 128-85-27 record during his four years behind the bench.

The MOB will be holding their 2019 Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, May 29 at the Casman Centre as they elect their board of directors for the coming season.