Cam Hope era ends as Victoria Royals fire longtime GM

Cameron Hope’s tenure as general manager and president of the Victoria Royals has ended after eight seasons.

The Western Hockey League club announced Wednesday that Hope will not be returning to the organization. No specific reason was given other than a reference to moving in a different direction.

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“We would like to thank Cameron for contributions and for guiding our franchise,” Royals owner Graham Lee said in a statement announcing the decision.

Lee is CEO and president of the GSL Group of Vancouver, formerly RG Properties. His company owns the Royals and operates the City of Victoria-owned Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

“The COVID-19 crisis has given us the time to reassess our organization and to set a new direction,” added Lee.

“We are committed to finding strong leadership that will help the Royals reach their full potential both on and off the ice.”

Lee did not return calls Wednesday requesting more details. Hope also did not return calls.

Hope is a lawyer by trade who had been part of the management team of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League from 2004 to 2011, first as vice-president of hockey administration, and the last four years as assistant GM to Glen Sather. An Edmonton native, Hope was hired as Royals general manager before the 2012-13 WHL season, replacing Marc Habscheid, and added the title of team president in 2014.

The Royals, under Hope’s guidance, have never missed the playoffs. Only two other of the 22 WHL teams — the Everett Silvertips and Portland Winterhawks — are able to make that claim in the span Hope has been with the Royals.

The Royals made the second round of the playoffs five times in Hope’s eight seasons but never got beyond that. Victoria had qualified again this season before the WHL playoffs were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hope’s Royals tenure has been marked by rosters featuring solid two-way journeymen junior players who were diligent and worked hard. But there have not been many star players during the Hope era on Blanshard Street. Only two Royals produced during Hope’s term have made it to the NHL with defenceman Joe Hicketts having 22 games with the Detroit Red Wings and Noah Gregor 28 with the San Jose Sharks.

Hope was known for his robust activity during the annual WHL trade deadline, in which he often brought in veteran WHLers for late-season and playoff pushes.

The 56-year-old often stated his season-to-season mantra was “sustained excellence.”

The amiable Hope, accessible and popular with fans and the media, never had a losing season in compiling a 316-205-52 regular-season record as GM in Victoria.

In his role as president, Hope had the Royals in the top half of WHL attendance in each of his eight seasons.

There was no word from Lee as to the process to name Hope’s successor or successors in the general manager and president positions.

Royals head coach Dan Price recently signed a contract extension for the next two seasons.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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