Coach and general manager Marc Habscheid has only been with the Chilliwack Bruins for two years, so excuse the gold medal winning coach of Team Canada if he hasn’t had time to turn the team into a winner.
When asked, president Dave Dakers of the team’s ownership, RG sports and entertainment, said they have yet to workout Habscheid’s future with the club but will announce it shortly.
In the meantime Habscheid is working with the many scouts on hire for Thursday’s 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft of 1996 born players in Calgary. The draft comes just 16 days following the franchise’s relocation and re-branding (still to come).
The belief in Victoria is fans are benefiting by inheriting an existing team, rather than suffering the growing years of expansion. Since starting in 2006-07 the Bruins have enjoyed moderate success, making the WHL playoffs in four out of five seasons. Though to be fair by the time the Vancouver Giants were five seasons old they’d won the WHL championship and lost in the Memorial Cup final. In their sixth year the Gianst won the Memorial Cup.
Not that a national championship is out of reach for Victoria in 2011-12, but for now Habscheid is focused on avoiding a redo of Chilliwack’s 1991 and 1993 born bantam drafts.
“We only had two 1993 draftees playing this year, that’s tough on the organization.” Tough meaning he’d like to have more depth with his 18 year olds this year.
The 1991 draft was also tough, though if 51 goal scorer Ryan Howse returns for Victoria’s inaugural season, there will only be two overage (turning 21) spots to fill this season.
Howse’s return is doubtful, however, Habscheid said, suggesting the Calgary Flames 2009 draft pick will likely play either in the NHL or with the Flames’ AHL affiliate Abbotsford Heat.
As for drafting locals, the coach admitted a local player would get the nod should a decision become tough to make.
“We have scouts in place who look everywhere in the Western U.S., Alaska and Canada.
“The tie goes to the local but we’re also trying to establish ourselves to win championships.”
Bearded wonder and Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators serves as a reminder that players who don’t get drafted are just as important.