The Vancouver Canucks will be bringing general manager Ryan Johnson and head coach Blake Cull to Abbotsford to retain their positions from last season. (YouTube)

Vancouver Canucks bringing Utica staff to Abbotsford

General manager Ryan Johnson, head coach Trent Cull and staff retained by Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have confirmed they will be retaining the coaching staff and general manager that was in place in Utica for the new Abbotsford American Hockey League franchise.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning, who today (June 23) hosted a press conference along with new special advisors Henrik and Daniel Sedin, stated that Ryan Johnson will be return as the general manager for Abbotsford and Trent Cull will continue in his role as head coach.

Johnson was a second round draft pick of the Florida Panthers back in 1994 and went on to play 701 games in the National Hockey League, making stops with the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues, Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks. He also played in the AHL with the Carolina Monarchs, Beast of New Haven and the Rockford IceHogs.

He collected 122 points and 250 penalty minutes during his career. He spent two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10) in Vancouver and retired with Chicago in 2011.

Johnson joined the Canucks as a player development consultant in 2013 and then became director of player development in 2016. He was then appointed the role of GM for the Utica franchise in 2017. He has remained in both roles since then.

Cull spent 10 seasons in the AHL starting in 1994-95 with the St. John’s Maple Leafs, Houston Aeros, Springfield Falcons, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Syracuse Crunch. He played 435 games and collected 70 points and 1,049 penalty minutes.

He became an assistant coach with Crunch from 2006 to 2010, then spent three seasons as head coach of the Sudbury Wolves before returning to the Crunch in 2013-14. He was named head coach of the Comets in 2017. During his four seasons as head coach he has a record of 122-93-17-9.

Other staff members with the Comets in 2020-21 included: associate head coach Drew Bannister, associate coach Gary Agnew, assistant coach Daniel Tkaczuk, goalie consultant Curtis Sanford and conditioning coach Nathan Williams.

The Sedins also confirmed their involvement in Abbotsford during the press conference.

“I think we’re excited to work with Abbotsford,” Daniel said. “We will try to be there as well and watch practice.”

Daniel went on to say the convenience of the team in Abbotsford, rather than Utica, is a benefit.

“I think it’s great that it’s in Abbotsford, it’s close and easy for us in management to go down and watch those players,” he said. “It’s a perfect solution. For us to be able to drive down and watch those guys practice and play games will be good for us.”

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