Idle sticks are the devil’s playground in hockey. So Victoria Royals players are free to play wherever they want for the next two months.
The Western Hockey League is granting its players temporary transfers to perform in Junior A, Junior B or Under-18 leagues until WHL training camps are scheduled to open in late December ahead of the start of the regular season on Jan. 8.
“This is an opportunity for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing hockey at a competitive level,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a statement.
“We felt it was very important to accommodate the requests of WHL roster players to play competitive hockey on a temporary basis in anticipation of WHL training camps beginning after Christmas.”
A number of WHL players are already on the move. They include a pair of defencemen from the Everett Silvertips heading to Island Division teams in the B.C. Hockey League – 2019 third-round Montreal Canadiens draft-pick Gianni Fairbrother to the Nanaimo Clippers and Dylan Anderson to the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Kelowna Rockets WHL goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schewbius went across the bridge to the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL, whose crease has been decimated by injuries.
But New York Rangers NHL-drafted goaltender Dylan Garand won’t be joining them in making the temporary jump to the BCHL: “I’m not playing anywhere else,” said the Langford product, who is a crease standout with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL.
The disruption this will cause on Junior A or Junior B teams could be an issue.
“I don’t think this [WHL] move will make much of a difference,” said Craig Didmon, GM and head coach of the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL. “There are only so many players allowed in your bubble. A lot of [BCHL] teams are happy with what they’ve got. We’ve got a good atmosphere on our team right now.”
The Royals have not said if any of their players will take advantage of the temporary transfers. “We are having those conversations with them right now,” said Victoria GM and head coach Dan Price.