The British Columbia Hockey League completed its 2013 annual general meeting last week in Richmond with a number of changes that bode well for the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The AGM looked at a number of issues not the least of which was brokering a seemingly draconian deal with Bauer, that actually may benefit the Smokies’ bottom line.
The BCHL signed an equipment deal with Bauer mandating that all players must use only Bauer Supreme sticks and equipment. Failure to comply will result in severe financial penalties to the club and will escalate with repeat offences. For protective gear, teams are allowed to use up remaining new equipment from previous seasons with the understanding that future orders will be made through Bauer.
“We had a five-year deal with Reebok but didn’t have a 100 per cent usage clause, but with Bauer because the price was so good, and the way they are going to treat us . . . if the kids don’t want to use the stick, they won’t be stepping on the ice,” said Smokie president Tom Gawryletz. “As far as we’re concerned it is a really good deal.”
All 16 BCHL teams voted in favour of the deal, but how the league will police it has yet to be determined.
“The board of governors have put in some pretty hefty fines and suspensions. I believe it’s going to come down to the coaching staff and training staff to make sure that before the kids step on the ice they have those sticks.”
The stick is actually a shaft, that is similar to the TotalOne shaft a lot of NHL players use, with the option of using one of many different blades.
“If any kid’s not happy with a $300 stick, then he’s probably in the wrong sport.”
The league also tacked on two more games this season with a 58-game schedule in 2013-14. Each club will open the season with two games at the Bauer BCHL Showcase Sept. 6-8 in Chilliwack and then play 28 home and 28 away dates to complete the regular season.
However, the playoff structure remains a mystery, with teams being asked to submit ideas for a new format.
“We’re going to decide that at the Chilliwack (event) in September,” said Gawryletz. “There’s about five different proposals out there, and we are working on all of them. We never did come to a solid conclusion at the AGM.”
The BCHL has changed its media policy surrounding the Jan. 10 roster deadline. Rather than keep trades under wraps until the next day, teams will be allowed to release information to media as soon as they have made the league office aware that all players involved in that transaction have been notified.
The BCHL regular season schedule was formed tentatively among the coaches and governors at the AGM; several dates need to be rearranged between teams, and the league hopes to have the final schedule out before the end of June.
“Tentatively, we’ve got as good as we can ask for. We were able to secure I believe 23 Friday and Saturday nights at home and only five games during the week and Sundays.”
NHL linesman Brad Lazarowich has officially joined the league’s officiating program as the associate director of officiating to head director Derek Adams. Lazarowich was able to monitor and provide mentorship to young officials last season during the NHL lockout and will continue to be a resource in developing the officiating program.
The Smokies training camp scheduled for next week was cancelled, but Gawryletz and coach Bill Birks have 15 players signed and look forward to the August main camp.