Longtime Eagles coach, GM Stewart calls it a career after 37 years in game of hockey
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It was simply the right time for Chris Stewart.
The Colorado Eagles president and general manager officially announced his retirement last week after nearly 20 years with the organization and 37 years overall in hockey coaching and management.
Stewart was the Eagles’ first head coach (2003-08) in team history, leading the Eagles to two Central Hockey League titles (2005, 2007) in their first five seasons.
As president and general manager, Stewart helped bring Colorado to back-to-back ECHL Kelly Cup championships in 2017 and 2018.
“These past two decades have been the best years of my life,” said Stewart. “I will forever treasure the memories that have been made with the Colorado Eagles and even more so, the amazing people that I have met along the way. I look forward to now being able to spend more time with my incredible family, watch them grow and explore the opportunities of this fantastic sport. We will continue to call Northern Colorado home as I move into this new chapter in life and I’m excited to watch the future successes of the Eagles.
“I would also like to say a special thank you to the incredible fans of the Colorado Eagles. Your passion and support for myself and this team have made it an honor to lead this organization.”
In his first five seasons behind the bench, Stewart guided the Eagles to five consecutive playoff berths – winning the Northwest Division each time – and three appearances in the CHL’s Presidents’ Cup Finals. In that time, the Eagles won the Governors’ Cup with the best regular season record twice (2004-05, 2005-06) and the Presidents’ Cup as league champions two times, as well (2005, 2007).
Colorado produced the best cumulative record (213-77-26) in the CHL during that time and set a CHL expansion team record with a .711 winning percentage in 2003-04.
“One of the greatest honors of my life is to be associated with the Colorado Eagles and this fantastic gentleman,” said Eagles owner and CEO Martin Lind. “We all have an incredible indebtedness to this man for his tenure here and I’m so happy for Chris to enjoy some well-deserved time off.”
Stewart stepped away from the bench after the 2007-08 season – taking two years off to focus on his roles as president and general manager – before returning for the 2010-11 season. In his first season back behind the Eagles’ bench, Stewart led the team to the CHL’s Presidents’ Cup Finals, marking the first time in CHL history that one team reached the finals five times (four under Stewart).
With the Eagles joining the ECHL for the 2011-12 season, Stewart left the CHL as one of just two coaches in CHL/WPHL history to win the league title with two different teams, He also won with the Huntsville Channel Cats in 1999.
He ranked tied for second on the CHL’s all-time coaching winning percentage list (.674), and third on the all-time wins list (415).
Stewart guided the Eagles to the playoffs in each of his 11 seasons as head coach of the Eagles. After concluding his coaching career, Stewart was named the ECHL General Manager of the Year in 2017 after helping build a team that posted a regular-season record of 47-20-2-3. He went on to capture the first of two consecutive ECHL Kelly Cup championships later that season.
Before coaching professionally, Stewart spent 15 seasons coaching Canadian Junior A hockey where he produced nearly 50 NHL draft picks, coached in six all-star games and was named coach of the year four times.
His accomplishments as the head coach of the Olds Grizzlys also earned him a spot in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
(Feb. 18, 2021)