New Sudbury Wolves coach has strong Manitoulin family ties

Craig Duncanson

SUDBURY – The new head coach of the Sudbury Wolves hockey team has close family ties to Manitoulin Island.

Craig Duncanson has been hired as the Wolves new coach. He replaces Cory Stillman who left the Wolves for a National Hockey League (NHL) coaching position with the Arizona Coyotes.

“Yes, I am extremely excited to be named as the new head coach for the Wolves,” Mr. Duncanson told The Expositor Saturday evening. “Quite honestly it is a real honour, and to have the opportunity to do something special and work with a lot of good people, and a talented young hockey team.” 

“I am back doing what I really want to,” stated Mr. Duncanson.

Mr. Duncanson was born in Greater Sudbury and went on to play professional hockey with several teams in the NHL from 1986-1997.  He is the son of Murray and Gladys Duncanson of Silver Water. “Dad is from Silver Water and mom is from Gordon so I spent most of my summers on Manitoulin. I spent a lot of my summers growing up at Bruce and Irene Duncanson’s place.”

“Craig was born in Sudbury, and raised in the Naughton and Lively area,” Ms. Duncanson told The Expositor. “He has always liked hockey, it has always been his love.”

Ms. Duncanson noted that her son, “was five years old when he started playing hockey in Copper Cliff and Lively. When he was 15 years old he played for the St. Michael’s Buzzers (1982-1983) in the Metro Junior Hockey League, then he went to the Sudbury Wolves for two seasons (1983-1984 and 1984-1985) seasons. He started the 1985-1986 season in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings notching one assist in two games before being returned to the Wolves. He was eventually traded to the Cornwall Royals (also in the Ontario Hockey League) for the 1985-1986 season.

“He played for several teams in the AHL (American Hockey League),” said Ms. Duncanson. “Murray also likes hockey and watched all his games, and even when Craig was really young he and Murray would play hockey in the basement of our house.” 

“I got back into coaching about 10 years ago,” Mr. Duncanson said. He took over as head coach of the Laurentian University men’s hockey team eight and a half years ago, before the program was cancelled this year due to the university’s financial crisis. Previously he has coached and worked with Canada’s under 17 minor midget hockey program and administration with local girls’ hockey in Sudbury. Previous to getting back into coaching, he had been in the financial business and sales.

Born March 17, 1967 Mr. Duncanson is a former left winger in the NHL. He was drafted in the first round, ninth overall, by the  Los Angeles Kings in the 1985 NHL entry draft, after his second season playing with the Sudbury Wolves. He played 38 games in the NHL; 28 over five seasons with the Kings, seven with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1990-1991 season and three with the New York Rangers in the 1992-1993 season. 

Mr. Duncanson turned professional in 1986 with two games for the Kings during the 1985-1986 season. While in the Kings’ organization, he played mostly for their affiliate New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL with call-ups to the NHL squad. He was traded to the Minnesota North Stars by the Kings for Daniel Berthiaume on September 6, 1990, then flipped by Minnesota to Winnipeg for Brian Hunt. On May 21, 1991 Mr. Duncanson was traded again, this time to the Washington Capitals. He never played for the Capitals, and he signed as a free agent with the New Your Rangers on September 4, 1992. Mr. Duncanson played three seasons for the Rangers organization, mostly with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL. In 1995, Mr. Duncanson left the Rangers organization, signing with the Orlando Solar Bears. He played for three seasons in the International Hockey League before retiring.

“We are quite proud of Craig,” said Ms. Duncanson. “He has followed his dream.”