West Kelowna Warriors owner Kim Dobranski holds news conference and announces he has re-instated coach Geoff Grimwood after letting him go. Makes brief statement but refuses to take media questions. @GlobalOkanaganpic.twitter.com/v1cv3UMxpr
— Klaudia Van Emmerik (@KlaudiaGlobal) September 6, 2018
September 7, 2018
by Gregg Drinnan, www.greggdrinnan.com
Here’s hoping that the circus pulled out of West Kelowna on Thursday morning and that the Warriors now are able to get on with their BCHL regular season that is scheduled to open against the Smoke Eaters in Trail tonight (Friday).
Kim Dobranski, the Warriors’ beleaguered majority owner, appeared before the media on Thursday morning, read from a prepared statement and chose not to answer questions.
In brief, Rylan Ferster, who had been the general manager and head coach for six seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had led the Warriors to the national junior A championship in 2016.
In a news release announcing Ferster’s departure, the Warriors revealed that Geoff Grimwood, who had been assistant GM and associate coach, had been named interim GM/head coach.
That lasted until Monday night when Dobranski fired Grimwood. On Tuesday, it became known that Jason Beckett, who had been coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, would be the next head coach.
Except that this is where the players got involved.
First, they skated off the ice during a Tuesday practice and didn’t return.
On Wednesday, they decided not to practise, choosing instead to go on a players-only hike.
By Wednesday night, the BCHL — commissioner Chris Hebb and the board of governors — was involved. A source familiar with the situation told Taking Note on Wednesday that the league had taken over the franchise, at least for now, and that a contract was being drawn up with Grimwood’s name on it.
By Thursday morning, Dobranski said he had seen the light.
In addressing the assembled media, Dobranski read:
“Mr. Grimwood in his short time here had a profound impact on these players. In my search to fill the big shoes of Mr. Ferster, I neglected to realize that Mr. Ferster, in his final act before leaving, not only did he assemble an incredible group of young men, he placed the best person for this job right in front of me.”
That person of course is Grimwood, who will be behind the bench tonight (Friday) in Trail and for the rematch in West Kelowna on Saturday.
Dobranski continued: “I failed both as a partner in this league and as a leader of this organization to consider the emotional turmoil this could cause for these young men. However, the positive in all this is that I discovered that we have something incredibly special here. We have a group of young men that are incredibly tight, bonded like I have never seen before, and have stood together willing to face whatever consequences that this may have caused. They did this for the sole purpose of supporting each other. This was a courageous and a selfless act and I feel we have an incredible group of players here with a foundation for success.”
Dobranski and a silent partner purchased the Warriors from Mark Cheyne in August.
Grimwood also was in attendance on Thursday and, after stating how excited he was to be the general manager and head coach, he offered:
“I think what we’ve done here, with Kim, myself and the B.C. Hockey League, we just made sure everyone’s on the same page going forward. What I want for the team and the players is the same thing that Mr. Dobranski wants. We’re going to work really hard to support those 23 players.”
Hebb, who is in his first year as the BCHL’s commissioner, apparently arrived in West Kelowna sometime on Wednesday.
Doyle Potenteau of Global News reported that the BCHL later issued a statement, “saying it will work alongside Dobranski and his management staff, directing them in the near term, and that the league will remain in a supporting role as the season progresses.”
Global’s coverage is right here.
The Kelowna Daily Courier has a story right here.