WEST VALLEY CITY Jason Christie, the Utah Grizzlies' head coach and director of hockey operations, will be leaving Salt Lake City to join the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.
Christie has been with the Grizzlies since June 14, 2005, when he helped the organization transition to the ECHL. His departure was announced Wednesday morning.
He will be replaced by Kevin Colley, who served as Christie's assistant coach for the Grizzlies last season.
Utah advanced to the playoffs in two of Christie's three seasons behind the bench. In 2005-06, Utah was the only one of three ECHL expansion teams to advance to the playoffs. This past season, the Grizz advanced to the conference finals as they enjoyed their best season in over a decade.
Christie helped secure an affiliation with the New York Islanders in 2007. Under his watch, the organization also set team records for appearances in the community and work with non-profit groups.
"Jason leaves a stamp on both this organization and the state of Utah on the ice and in the community," said Grizzlies CEO Kevin Bruder. "We were very fortunate to have him with us for over three years and wish him the absolute best as he takes the next step in his coaching career."
In Chicago, Christie will be reunited with Wolves coach Don Granato, whom he played for in the ECHL with the Columbus Chill and Peoria Rivermen. Chicago is the AHL's reigning Calder Cup champion.
"My family and I have really enjoyed living in Utah. We will miss it here," Christie said. "I want to thank Mr. Bruder and Mr. Elmore (Grizzlies owner Dave Elmore) for their support and trust the last three years. It is difficult to leave but I feel really good about this upcoming Grizzlies team."
During the 1999-2000 season, Christie served as a player/assistant coach for Granato as the Rivermen captured the Kelly Cup Championship. The following year, Christie was given his first head coaching job with the Rivermen when Granato advanced to coach Worcester in the AHL.
Colley, 29, came to Utah after being forced to retire due to an injury he sustained while playing for the New York Islanders on Jan. 31, 2006, during his rookie season in the National Hockey League.
In April of 2006, Colley was honored with the Bob Nystrom award, which is given to the Islander who best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication.
Overall, Colley played in 396 total professional games, including 166 in the ECHL and 214 in the AHL. The 5-foot-11 forward tallied 117 goals and 140 assists for 257 points and 1050 penalty minutes during his professional career. Colley was named MVP of the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs winning the championship with Atlantic City. In addition, he was named to the ECHL All-Star Game in 2002 and 2003.
The Grizzlies open the 2008-09 season their 15th season on Saturday, Oct. 18 at Idaho. The home-opening weekend for Utah is Oct. 24-25 against Alaska at the E Center.