Outgoing Victoria Grizzlies president Lance Black points proudly to the banners hanging from the rafters of The Q Centre honouring Victoria Grizzlies alumni such as Olympic gold-medallist and Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, Stanley Cup-champion Tyler Bozak and NHLer Jordie Benn.
“The humility of those guys was incredible and they were so honoured. Junior hockey was a huge part of their careers. It’s a stepping stone at a critical stage,” said Black.
After stepping down from his position on Saturday, Black reflected on his 11 seasons as president of the B.C. Hockey League club. To call him the team president didn’t do his position justice. He was more the jack-of-all-trades, selling advertising and even stepping in as substitute PA announcer when needed and once he applied a tourniquet to a badly cut player to help the training staff until the ambulance arrived.
“It’s not the NHL. There are blurred lines between duties and chores in Junior A hockey,” said Black. “You help out on the bus when needed. Because coaches are coaching, you become the conduit to out-of-town parents. It was a bit of everything and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
And pretty much as a volunteer. Black’s real paying job is as an investment adviser.
“I’ve been around the rink so long that fans thought this is all I do,” quipped Black.
The BCHL pushes out a lot of players into U.S. collegiate NCAA Div. 1 hockey and few of them make it to the pros. But Black never lost sight of the reality that junior hockey administrators are there during a highly sensitive stage in young players’ lives: “You have to be in it for the right reasons. We want them to leave as better hockey players but even better citizens. We never traded anybody who was anxious about it.”
Black also sent a shout out to the club’s owners and sponsors: “They wrote cheques, even through the very difficult period of the pandemic that rattled sports everywhere.”
Leaving is a personal decision and Black said he is doing so on good terms with the organization. The club has not announced who will replace Black as president.
The Grizzlies this week also named a new general manager and head coach as Rylan Ferster takes over for Craig Didmon.
“I admire Craig, he did a wonderful job for this club for a long time,” added Black. “And the club is in great hands with Rylan.”