Sunday, August 3, 2014

Fighting to save a hockey program

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw. Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract with Gherdëina (Italy, Serie A). Last season, with the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL), he had one assist in three games. He also was pointless in four games with the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL). He signed with Herning (Denmark, Metal Ligaen) in November and put up 21 points, six of them goals, in 22 games.
If Trevor Bast has his way, the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) WolfPack hockey team will live a long and fruitful life.
Unfortunately, the school’s athletic director buried the team last week.
In eliminating the hockey program, Ken Olynyk, TRU’s athletics and recreation director, said: “ . . . due to economics and a lack of a sustainable model, we have no choice but to dissolve the program.”
The hockey program started life in 2008-09. It was a club team that was operated by the Kamloops Collegiate Hockey Society. A source familiar with the situation has told Taking Note that the team was $50,000 in debt.
Bast, however, isn’t about to give up.
“I am determined to start a movement to revive this team,” Bast, who lives in Victoria, told Taking Note on Sunday night.
For the last three seasons, the WolfPack’s head coach was Don Schulz. Last season, the WolfPack went 9-14, finishing fourth in the six-team B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League. TRU then lost out in the first round of the playoffs.
Bast’s son, Des, was the last recruit signed by the WolfPack. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound defenceman’s signing was announced via news release on July 17. Bast, 19, split last season between the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks and the junior B Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior league.
“It was a bitter disappointment for our entire family when (the program ended), as well as for the other players involved,” Trevor Bast said. “Just to have a chance to play four more years of competitive hockey and for us to cheer him and his team on for four more years is a thrill only a hockey family can relate to. Having that pulled out from under you suddenly leaves a huge void.”
Hockey or not, Des still plans on attending TRU, where he will study architectural and engineering technology, a program his father said “is quite unique and not offered in many places.”
But when Trevor Bast looked at what happened to the hockey program, he said, “I can't help but think this was a completely avoidable situation.”
The way he figures it, $40,000 would have saved the team.
“There is too much money in the hockey world for $40,000 to take down a university program -- club, varsity or otherwise,” he said. “The thing that jumps out at me is the hockey team ran on a $100,000 budget. With a full roster at last year’s player fee of $1,500 that covers approx 40 per cent.
“That leaves $60,000 for the team, the foundation and the university to make up via grants, sponsorship, fundraising, etc. At the end of the day, the announced shortfall was $40,000 and a plan for sustainability was not in place.
“Of those 20 or so players who suddenly lost this team, if eight of them decide to not attend school at all due to this, that is eight too many. That is life- and career-altering.”
Bast is determined to find out whether there is money available for a program such as this.
“There is a sustainable model out there,” he said. “There is money out there in the form of corporate sponsorship and a huge network of multi-millionaire pros from the B.C. Interior. There are great business minds with a passion for hockey and higher education who could lend expertise to creating a sustainable model. TRU has a business and marketing program that is the envy of other larger institutions.”
Starting right now, Bast said, the fight is on try and save the program.
“I, like everyone else, have a lot more ideas and questions than answers right now,” he said, “but the solution is out there and it is worth fighting for.
“I believe this team will be revived and I will do whatever I can to get behind the cause.”
Bast may be reached by email at

Herb Hand is the offensive line coach with the Penn State Nittany Lions football team. The other day, a player he was recruiting posted something Hand found offensive, so the recruitment drive ended. Right there. . . . There is more right here on the impact of social media on these situations. It should have been headlined: Players beware!
The always thoughtful William C. Rhoden of The New York Times weighs in right here with his look at the mess Stephen A. Smith of ESPN found himself in after opining on the suspension handed running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens by the NFL.

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