KRS Vanke Rays change coaches late in the season

Mike LaZazzera to step in for Bob Deraney

The KRS Vanke Rays announced a coaching change yesterday — assistant coach Mike LaZazzera has been promoted to head coach to take the place of Bob Deraney.

Deraney was in his first season of coaching in China. He was hired in June 2018. According to the CWHL’s press release, Deraney will stay on in a player development role.

Like Deraney, LaZazzera is a Massachusetts native. He has an extensive coaching history of high school, college, and multiple ECHL teams, though according to his Elite Prospect page, he jumped around a lot. He was also the video coach for the New York Islanders from 2006-08.

LaZazzera is KRS Vanke Rays third coach in two season.

Digit Murphy was last season’s head coach. She lead the team to a Clarkson Cup final appearance, falling to the Markham Thunder in overtime. The team relied heavily on international and heritage players, with many of the Chinese national team players seeing limited minutes. Murphy was also the coach of the Chinese team at Worlds Division I Group B tournament in April, where the team of all Chinese national team players struggled. Murphy and the organization parted ways after that tournament. Deraney was hired a few months later, leaving his long-time job as the head coach of the women’s team at Providence College.

KRS Vanke Rays are currently in third place with 25 points, only two ahead of the Markham Thunder. They’ll spend the rest of their season in China — with two more games against the Toronto Furies and three against the first place Calgary Inferno.

This is the third coaching change in the CWHL this season. Les Canadiennes de Montreal’s long-time coach Dany Brunet stepped down in late November. Caroline Ouellette and Danièle Sauvageau were named as the new coaches. Shannon Miller was in her first season before she stepped down from the Inferno in early December.