Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Banquet Brings House Down

What a night it was on Friday for the Home of Champions Hockey Alumni Banquet in Trail. Nearly 200 people helped contribute to the ALS Society in the name of the late Gene Lenardon and to the BCHL hockey club. Last year the banquet was the single biggest ALS fundraiser in BC. Norm Lenardon deserves a ton of credit for making that happen. As does Smokies President Tom Garwyletz and the whole executive.

Of course most of the credit for how fun the night was goes to the guest speakers. From insightful commentary to hilarious stories from the road we got it all from Tom McVie, Ray Ferraro, Cesare Maniago and Bobby Kromm. McVie calls himself the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey and there's no question in my mind he could have made a career for himself as a comedian. He tore the house down. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak don't miss out. It's amazing to me that all four of the men on stage had a connection to Trail and three of them were actually born here. The class and talent on that head table was incredible. If we had more time for the question and answer it could have gone on for an entire evening.

Thanks to the Smokies for allowing me to be a part of it as MC. I had a great time. I also think it's important to remember those who suffer from ALS. We may have spent one night talking about it and raising money for it, but those who suffer from it have to live with it 365 days a year. Learn more by checking out the ALS society's website.

We also heard our guests talk about how important the BCHL Smokies are to the community. I hope the fans don't forget that with season tickets now available. Support the hockey club to make sure they can continue to provide the best quality hockey action in all of the West Kootenay.

Here are some audio highlights of the banquet on Friday. Unfortunately my recording of Bobby Kromm and the Q&A didn't really turn out, but here are some of the highlights of the other speeches. After attending the last three of these events I can say that you're absolutely crazy if you miss out next year!

Audio Highlights from the Home of Champions Banquet

Click here to download


...Some major coaching changes recently in the BCHL. First of all the Westside Warriors have their man. They hired Darren Yopyk as their new Head Coach to replace the departing Mark Howell who will be the new bench boss for the University of Calgary. Yopyk has a masters in psychology and spent the last six years coaching as an assistant for two different US schools. He's a former AJHL player and spent four years playing for Princeton. Sounds like a man who has earned an opportunity to run his own ship.

As for Howell, a story from Kelowna Rockets broadcaster Regan Bartel on AM 1150 out of Kelowna suggested he may have been black listed by WHL teams. Howell wouldn't say he was black listed but did admit there's friction with WHL teams because of players going back and fourth. He also says it's probably easier for him to go from coaching Canadian University to the WHL. That seems a little ridiculous to me. Haven't we seen a lot of coaches go from the CJHL to the CHL? Mark Holick for example just recently went from Vernon to Cranbrook. Nelson's Bruno Campese is another somewhat recent example. If a coach does a good job somewhere I can't imagine CHL teams will hold a grudge if they think that person is the right man for their opening.

...The Salmon Arm Silverbacks also made some changes to their hockey operations. Rylan Ferster is moving upstairs to take on General Manager duties on a full time basis. Matt Hughes will take over as the Head Coach. This move comes only a week or so after Ferster was named the Head Coach for Team Canada West heading into this year's World Junior A Challenge. Even if the move had nothing to do with Ferster's appointment to Team Canada it certainly helps Salmon Arm to have some consistency behind the bench instead of seeing their coach take off for a few weeks in the middle of the season. This move also frees Ferster up to work full time on player moves and recruitment. I know from watching Jim Ingram how hard the dual role guys work. If a team can afford to pay two people to do the jobs I would think that would certainly be an advantage. Of course if Hughes doesn't have the kind of record the Silverbacks expect by say Christmas the fact that Ferster will still be around and available could lead to quick speculation about his future.

...Those two moves leave us with some significant changes to the Interior Conference coaching ranks. There are new Head Coaches in Quesnel, Williams Lake, Merritt, Westside and Salmon Arm. That could certainly shake things up for next season. Merritt has also hired some new assistants and you should check out Brian's Making Cents blog for more on those moves.

No comments: