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Junior hockey: After 29 years, the Kelowna Rockets’ longest employee steps down

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Junior hockey: After 29 years, the Kelowna Rockets’ longest employee steps down – Apr 21, 2020

After nearly three decades with the Kelowna Rockets, Lorne Frey is bowing out of his role as the team’s director of player personnel and assistant general manager.

“It’s been a great 29 years,” Frey said Tuesday.

“One of the things about this job is that I’ve been able to do something that I truly love to do. Not everyone can say that they enjoy coming to work each day.”

READ MORE: 3 Okanagan hockey players crack NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings

Frey has been with Rockets since their Tacoma inception in 1991.

“He was the first employee I hired and has played a key role within the Rockets franchise, and with each group of players over the past 29 seasons,” said Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton said.

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Added Hamilton: “It would be impossible to replace Lorne.”

Frey’s legacy is a who’s who of Rockets alumni.

During Frey’s tenure, he had hand in drafting Tyler Myers, Dillon Dube, Luke Schenn, Tyson Barrie, Scott Hannan, Blake Comeau, Scott Parker and many more that went on to play in the National Hockey League.

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But arguably his real triumphs could be the players he got into a Rockets uniform that weren’t selected during the WHL’s annual bantam draft.

Among the many, that list includes Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and Jamie Benn.

It’s clear that without Frey, the Rockets would not be the franchise they have become.

“He’s been involved in every hockey decision since Day 1, whether it was coaching staff or players,” Hamilton said of Frey.

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Over the years, Frey and Hamilton have become close friends and it’s clear there’s a mutual admiration for one and other.

“The organization is first class, Bruce runs it like a professional team,” Frey said.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else in this league.”

Said Hamilton: “He’s been a very close friend and is one of the most loyal people I know.”

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Hamilton continued, “I want to sincerely thank Lorne for the countless hours spent and the commitment he shown, ensuring we had not only good players on the ice, but good people make up our team.”

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Frey has two Memorial Cups to his credit, the first with the Swift Current Broncos in 1989, the second with Kelowna in 2004.

During the 2010-11 season Frey was honoured with the WHL’s Distinguished Service Award.

And for those who know just how much Frey has shaped the Kelowna Rockets, not to worry.

As the saying goes, once a Rocket always a Rocket.

Frey will continue on as a senior advisor with the team, looking after scouting for the team in Saskatchewan, as well as taking a hands on role during camp.

Frey will official step down following Wednesday’s WHL online bantam draft.

READ MORE: Playoffs could go into fall if NHL can finish season: officials

Rockets trade for Oil Kings forward

In related news, Kelowna acquired a new forward on Monday, as the Rockets sent a fourth-round pick in the 2023 bantam draft to the Edmonton Oil Kings for David Kope.

Last season with Edmonton, his third in the league, Kope tallied 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points in 59 regular-season games. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 173 pounds.

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In 183 regular-season games, Kope has registered 41 goals and 49 assists for 90 points.

David Kope, seen here in action with the Edmonton Oil Kings against the Everett Silvertips.
David Kope, seen here in action with the Edmonton Oil Kings against the Everett Silvertips. Submitted

“With Dillon Hamaliuk signed by the San Jose Sharks, we aren’t sure if he will be assigned back here for the upcoming season,” said Hamilton. “In order to add more depth, the opportunity to add another big body was there and we took advantage of it.”

From Edmonton, Kope was drafted by the Oil Kings in the eighth round , at 164th overall, during the 2015 bantam draft.