Idaho Steelheads coach Neil Graham moves up; search for replacement begins

The Idaho Steelheads will have a new coach this fall for the first time in four years.

Neil Graham, who led the hockey team for the past four seasons and was on the coaching staff for seven seasons, has accepted an assistant coach position with the Texas Stars of the AHL, the Steelheads announced Monday. The Texas Stars, like the Steelheads, are affiliated with the Dallas Stars of the NHL.

Graham, 34, was 166-91-31 with the Steelheads, who play one level below the AHL in the ECHL.

The Texas Stars, who play just outside Austin, are coached by Derek Laxdal, a former Steelheads coach (2005-10).

“Neil has proven himself as a capable coach during his tenure in Idaho,” Texas Stars General Manager Scott White said in a press release. “His experience as a coach and player will be a tremendous asset to head coach Derek Laxdal and the entire Texas Stars coaching staff. Neil’s work in Boise and addition to the Stars both continues and enhances the development path between Texas and Idaho.”

Graham, who also played for the Steelheads, said “the culture is excellent and encourages growth.”

His replacement will be the Steelheads’ eighth coach as the franchise approaches its 23rd season.

“We are very excited for Neil and his opportunity with the Texas Stars and the Dallas Stars organization,” Steelheads President Eric Trapp said in the release. “It’s a chance well-earned. … Neil and his family are part of the Steelheads family forever. We wish him all the best in Texas and hope he continues to reach his personal goals.”