Let’s start with the announce team of Evan Richardson, who came to the team only last year. He leaves the team due to family issues. He was big into social media and provided a portion of what Todd Vrooman did. His departure left the Hawks with backup man Andy Kemper. Well, he left too, citing family reasons as well. His is not a major surprise as his daughter has been excelling at swimming and could progress very high but needs parents to assist. Now the search is on now for not one but two voices. In a pinch, they can use Dean “Scooter” Vrooman, who ran the airwaves from 1981 to 2008 or they might make an overture to his son, Todd, to get them through until they get a permanent replacement. Either way, it will be a new voice this season.
This will also be the first ever 68 game season since the league formed in 1966. Before, they played 72, four more than OHL and QMJHL. Now they play same number of games. It means 2 fewer games against Tri-City and Spokane.
Speaking of Tri-City, Mike Williamson has left the team. At 44, he is youngest coach to leave but does so with an impressive record.
The Hawks also announced changes in the front office. A very we deserved promotion to Assistant GM to Kyle Gustafson, who takes the post after it laid dormant following Travis Green’s departing to the AHL and, ultimately, the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL
Also elevated is scout Derek Coflin, who becomes the Assistant GM in charge of scouting . It gives the Hawks strength in that department. Meanwhile, Lisa Hollembck, who was great in the office, nows becomes the new Director of Hockey Operations, replacing Leslie Phau, who left with one season under her belt and leaves just four people now under directive of Kelley Robinett.
Matt Bardsley, who many thought was the mastermind behind many drafts and trades of the Hawks, got tapped to be the next GM of the Kamloops Blazers. His is a double whammy in that his wife Stacy, who is a major ticket agent, leaves as well. Big holes will have to be filled here and not much time to do it in.
Other News and Notes:
Arcadia-Bathhurst Titan won the Memorial Cup over host Regina. Swift Current Broncos, who won the WHL title, lost all three games in the Round Robin. The Hamilton Bulldogs lost in semi-finals to Regina were entrant representing the OHL. It shows once again how meaningless the Memorial Cup is with a nearly $3.5 million dollar price tag. The real winners were the three that won their respective league titles. Imagine next year where the three teams broke the bank and had as many as half the roster 19 years and up and how they will look next year and beyond. One needs to only look at the 2013 Saskatoon Blades, who bet the farm, lost bounced out in first round of the playoffs and had poor showing at the Cup. They missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
No one from Hawks was selected in the annual NHL draft. That hasn’t happened in nearly a decade and marks poorest showing for WHL in ages.
Several ex-Hawks signed various NHL and worldwide contracts, including Skyler McKenzie, who signed a three-year entry deal with Winnipeg Jets, furthering uncertainty who will be the overagers this year.