West Kelowna Warriors majority owner Kim Dobranski says Geoff Grimwood has been reinstated as the team’s head coach. However, Dobranski refused to answer questions during a press conference regarding his team’s recent coaching carousel.
After the press conference, the BCHL issued a statement, saying it will work alongside Dobranski and his management staff, directing them in the near term, and that the league will remain in a supporting role as the season progresses.
“There has been a steep learning curve with a new owner here, but we are putting our efforts behind the West Kelowna Warriors and will support and advise them as they request this season,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb. “This club won a national championship in 2016 and have another outstanding recruiting class this season. I fully expect them to again be a strong team in the Interior Division.”
West Kelowna had eight players on their roster committed to NCAA Div. I programs last season. It is expected two of those players will be back with the team this season, as well as three other college-committed players so far.
The Warriors open the 2018-19 season on Friday, Sept. 7 in Trail against the Smoke Eaters.
It’s called Grimmergate, and it’s exactly the type of start to a season that junior hockey teams try to avoid.
On Wednesday, news broke that the West Kelowna Warriors had fired their new interim head coach, Geoff Grimwood. The supposed firing came on Monday, three weeks after Grimwood had been named interim head coach when former head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster stepped down.
In firing Grimwood, it was reported that new Warriors owner Kim Dobranski had hired Jason Beckett has head coach, though the team had not announced that. Becket had been coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna. A call by Global News to the Warriors was not returned.
Now, the B.C. Hockey League and Warriors will host a press conference this morning at 10:30 a.m.
In response to the firing, several Warriors players rebelled against the firing, with some going online and calling it #Grimmergate. One player, Cavin Tilsley, tweeted “We need our coach back.”
Further, reports stated several players left Tuesday’s practice and didn’t return. On Wednesday, instead of practicing, those players went for a hike.
Then, just to confuse the scene even further, Dobranski went on to social media and ranted about a media article in Kelowna regarding Grimwood’s status with the team. That post has since been deleted.
Grimwood was originally hired on July 3rd as the Warriors’ associate head coach and assistant general manager. Grimwood, 37, had been the head coach and GM of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers prior to joining the BCHL franchise.
On August 21st, Ferster abruptly announced his resignation.
“I think it was just the right time for me to move on and look at the next chapter,” Ferster told Global News.
Also this month, the Warriors have hired a new public address announcer, Rob Mitchell, who replaces long-time public address announcer Wayne Moore. There’s also a new director of entertainment and game-day operations, Mike Schell, and a new director of marketing and public relations, Kristi Hennessy. And on Aug. 24th, Trevor Miller announced he was leaving the team’s broadcasting and media relations position.