Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bast working to save WolfPack . . . Blades, Wheaties deal

The 2014 Kidney Walk and Kidney Run is scheduled for Kamloops’ Riverside Park on Sunday, Aug. 24.
As regular readers here will be aware, Dorothy, my wife of 42 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23. In past years, she wasn’t well enough to take part in the Kidney Walk. That no longer is the case.
The two of us, along with our son, Todd, and his girlfriend, Joanna, will be at Riverside Park on Aug. 24 and we will be taking part in the 2.5-km walk.
If you are so inclined, please click right here, go to ’Sponsor a Participant’ and make a donation in support of Dorothy.
“We want to give back to the Kidney Foundation any way we can,” Dorothy says, “because they have done so much for us.”
This, then, is our way of giving back at least a little bit.
Thank you so much for your support.

F Riley Emmerson (Tri-City, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the San Francisco Bulls (ECHL), he was pointless in 11 games. He also was pointless in 22 games with the Ontario Reign (ECHL) and had seven points, three of them goals, in 18 games with the Arizona Sundogs (CHL). . . .
F Stefan Meyer (Medicine Hat, 2000-05) signed a one-year contract with the Braehead Clan Glasgow (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), he had 54 points, including a team-high 28 goals, in 57 games.
Ken Olynyk, the athletic director at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), announced on July 29 that the WolfPack hockey program was being put into cold storage.
The hockey team wasn’t a varsity program; it ran as a club team and played in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League. In pulling the plug, Olynyk said the program was in debt and lacked a proper business plan.
However, all may not be lost.
Trevor Bast of Victoria has taken it upon himself to attempt to lead a revival. His son, Des, was the last recruit signed by the WolfPack before the end came.
Bast has spent the last week working to marshal support.
On Sunday, he told Taking Note that there are a number of things he is working toward. For starters, the society that overlooked the hockey program “has to dissolve and reform with five directors.”
That, he added, is doable.
The team was about $50,000 in debt when the end came; Bast said he has been in contact with potential sponsors.
“There are sponsors willing to contribute, but nothing in the form of a bailout or major donor,” he explained.
Bast added: “We have gear, we have willing players and I'm confident we can get more. We could easily run a bare-bones season with a budget of $70,000 to $80,000 . . . $40,000 to $50,000 of that could come from player fees.”
On Monday, Bast said he will find out if the City of Kamloops already has moved to re-allocate the WolfPack’s ice time at Memorial Arena.
The bottom line, though, involves Olynyk.
As Bast put it: “The only way this gets going for this season is if Ken Olynyk changes his mind and puts faith in a new group, or a large amount of money falls from the sky.”
With all of that in mind, Bast penned this letter to Olynyk on Saturday:
Good morning, Ken:
I have to say this last week has been very enlightening for me. I've talked to some terrific people, I've discovered I have some gumption that I didn't know I had, but most of all I know there is a passion for hockey at TRU and if it doesn't happen this season it will be back soon. I had a great 90-minute conversation with Andre Larouche yesterday and got a complete history lesson on TRU hockey. Talking to Andre confirmed what I already felt -- mistakes have been made but hockey can work at TRU and more importantly it belongs at TRU.
“From my perspective (and many others but I won't speak for them), many of the final road blocks that stalled the program where just products of a negative culture that swept through the hockey operations and created strained relationships with all of the departments involved. The biggest one I have seen is the contention that TRU Hockey is at a recruiting disadvantage because they have players fees. Of course, if that's the attitude one leads with, it will absolutely hinder recruiting. I can spin several reasons why TRU is the best place to play hockey in the BCIHL without even breaking a sweat. We could charge $1,900 and still sell the program.
- An entire year of education, housing and hockey is a fraction of what families pay to send their son to Division III schools in the U.S. We have to get that message out there.
- TRU is the most well-rounded of all the Schools in the BCIHL. From upgrading, to trades, certificates, diplomas, degrees, post graduate, culinary, science, nursing, arts and on and on. SFU and UVic can't boast this type of diversity. Selkirk has to recruit half a team each year due to having one- and two-year programs.
- Kamloops is a perfect size city and its location makes it accessible for families to visit and attend games.
I won't go on, I'm sure you get my point. Ken, these are hockey operations issues. These can and will be fixed. This program just needs a few dedicated volunteers at different points of the province shaking hands with players, parents and coaches and selling the TRU story, not unlike how you recruit for your Varsity sports. One of the big differences is that hockey families are used to spending their money, you just have to build value into it.
The last point I want to touch on is what those 25 or so students mean to the school economically. You and I touched on this and it was you who gave me the economic benefit a single student brings to the community and the school. Multiply that by 25 and I am still perplexed at how this could not be resonating further up the food chain at TRU. This is a team of 25 or so students who, with a few exceptions, are now here today gone tomorrow along with their money. I thought this was about money. Obviously it's not all about money.
I know if an olive branch is extended and this season is saved, we have time to recruit a team. The society has not been dissolved and mistakes made will not be repeated.
Ken, hockey is our national sport, B.C. and Kamloops love the game. It is a sport where underdogs are glorified. Those who persevere are honoured and rewarded. Hockey players and those who love hockey are cut from a different cloth. Character is a pre-requisite and those without it are quickly weeded out. Give these kids, families and the society another chance and they will not look back. I imagine what you need is a program that runs itself as much as possible and that hasn't been the case the last couple years. I believe this can be the case moving forward. Please help us find a way.

Trevor Bast

The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Dakota Boutin from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. Boutin, 17, is from Moosomin, Sask. Boutin was a third-round pick by Brandon in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Boutin had 13 points, five of them goals, in 13 regular-season games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos. He added nine points, including seven assists, in eight playoff games. Later, he scored the winning goal in the third OT period as the Mintos won the TELUS Cup with a 4-3 victory over the Chateauguay Grenadiers.
Two young hockey players died on the weekend.
Calvin Dueck of Rosenort, Man., drowned in St. Malo Provincial Park south of Steinbach on Saturday evening. Dueck, 19, was a prospect of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers.
There is more right here from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Nick Egan, a former defenceman with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, died Friday. Egan, 21, was a New Jersey native who grew up near Philadelphia. Josh Lewis of the Estevan Mercury reports right here that “Egan is believed to have died of a heart attack.”
By now, you will be aware of the incident involving NASCAR driver Tony Stewart in which a fellow competitor was killed. It happened Saturday night during a sprint car race at a track in upstate New York. By Sunday morning, social media was in full swing. Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail writes about the situation right here.
Traditionalists may not approve, but analytics are arriving in the hockey world and they’re arriving right now. Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe takes a look at the world of what seem like exotic statistics but soon will be run-of-the-mill numbers right here.

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