While his team’s executives hammer out a new lease for the 2015-16 B.C. Hockey league season, Victoria Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon continues to press forward in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
He’ll have a couple more holes to fill after it was recently announced that the future considerations shipped to the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the deal for Thomas Gobeil at the trade deadline, include defenceman Chris Harpur and forward Ayden MacDonald.
“We had some names [on a list] of guys that could go to Cowichan. All of them were guys that you never know are coming back the following year,” said Didmon. “Both Harpur and MacDonald improved as the season went on and became big parts of our hockey club on and I know we’ll miss them.
“Both kids were thankful for what the Grizzlies did for them and felt that they developed here as players. They understood the conditions when we made that trade on Jan. 10 — that the team made the trade and we live with those decisions.
“Certainly, Thomas came in and made us a better team,” added Didmon. “We would have liked him to get that overtime goal on the breakaway [in the 5-4 double-overtime loss to Powell River that eliminated Victoria from the playoffs], but at the end of the day, it is what it is and I know we’ll be a strong team, regardless.”
Adding to the two losses are the departures of Brett Gruber to Green Bay of the USHL and captain Shawn McBride and goalie Sean Cleary, who took scholarships and will not be back.
“Harpur and MacDonald were no surprise, but with Gruber and McBride, they are top-six forwards, so we’re working hard to replace them. Fortunately, there are a lot of guys wanting to play in Victoria,” said Didmon.
The Grizzlies had already announced the recruitment of several additions in late February, among them Matt Baker of Upper Canada College in Toronto; St. Andrew’s College products J.D. Falconer, Cal Walker and goalie Matthew Galajda; and Lake Forest Academy’s Joey Visconti and Jake Stevens.
Galajda was the most valuable player of his team’s playoffs.
“When we did our recruiting, we knew we were making this type of deal and we compensated with some of the defencemen coming in and the forwards,” said Didmon, who also has defencemen Kevin Massy, Cody Van Lierop and Tomba Huddleston coming back on the blue line.
As far as the new lease for The Q Centre is concerned, the the Grizzlies and West Shore Parks and Rec were still hammering it out on Thursday and a deal may be made today.
“Progress is being made,” said Grizzlies president and alternate governor John Wilson.
“I’m preparing as usual. I have to,” is all Didmon would say.