During Garry Davidson’s four years on the Island — guiding the Victoria Salsa (now Grizzlies) and Nanaimo Clippers for two seasons each — local fans never lacked for forward-thinking play in the B.C. Hockey League.
It was the same when Davidson moved to the Interior to turn the Salmon Arm Silverbacks into a BCHL power.
Davidson, GM of the Everett Silvertips, returns to the bench tonight as interim coach as the Silvertips host the Victoria Royals in the Western Hockey League.
It will be the first game for Everett since Mark Ferner was fired as Silvertips coach this week.
“[Ferner’s firing] was not about how the team was performing. It was more to do with philosophy,” said Davidson, by phone from Everett. And now Everett will be under the Davidson Rules, top to bottom.
“I want to see good offensive team play,” he said. “That does not mean abandoning defence. It means focusing on and maintaining puck possession. That will be the long-term philosophy of this organization.”
There is also the extra emotional boost teams get when a coaching shakeup occurs. Those adrenalin lifts are usually short-lived, but the Royals have the task of facing the Silvertips for the first time since Ferner’s firing.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” said Davidson of his charges.
“But I do know we have had three good days of practice.”
The Silvertips (16-24-2) hold the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference, five points ahead of the ninth-place Prince George Cougars, one point behind the seventh-place Seattle Thunderbirds and nine behind sixth-place Victoria (20-16-3).
“It’s the proverbial four-point game against Victoria,” said Davidson.
“But basically [more than looking up at Victoria], we’re trying to keep our nose above water and maintain a playoff spot.”
The opposite holds true for the Royals.
“We need to keep these two teams [Everett and Seattle] behind us in the standings,” said Victoria GM Cam Hope, as the Royals sweep into Washington state to face the Silver Tips tonight and Thunderbirds on Saturday.
“We know they will be motivated by looking up the ladder and seeing us there. We know we are walking into a bear trap.”
Meanwhile, the Royals remained content with their nip and tuck from over the past week, avoiding major surgery as the WHL trade deadline passed without a move Thursday by the Royals.
“We’re satisfied with our roster as we get set for our playoff push,” said Hope.
“We were in a bit of a strange position because our injury situation [with several forwards out at various stages] happened just before the trade deadline, so we had to play a bit of defence [in terms of trade strategy].”
The latter point was likely the rationale behind last week’s acquisition of forward Trent Lofthouse from the Silvertips for a 2014 sixth-round bantam draft pick.
The Royals limited their dealing to two other moves of the past week — trading veteran defenceman Jesse Zgraggen to the Calgary Hitmen for a 2013 fourth-round bantam pick and sending third-string goaltender Jared Rathjen to the Vancouver Giants for an eighth-round 2013 bantam selection.
“We’re ready to go,” said Hope.
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