It may be the off-season, but the B.C. Hockey League isn’t taking time off. In recent weeks, the BCHL has introduced a new commissioner, switched up the overtime format to include a shootout, and celebrated success at the NHL Entry Draft.
New commissioner announced
In mid-June, the BCHL announced that Chris Hebb has replaced John Grisdale as league commissioner.
Hebb is a former senior executive with two of Canada’s biggest sports and entertainment companies. From 2006 to 2013, he was senior vice president of content and communications for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in Toronto, overseeing broadcast and digital properties for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and the Toronto Marlies, as well as running MLSE’s three TV networks.
Prior to that, he spent 11 years with Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Grizzlies and General Motors Place, and since renamed Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
More recently, Hebb was president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., a company advising sports organizations on business strategy and development, with clients including Canada Soccer, Oilers Entertainment Group, USports, Vancouver Whitecaps, Hockey Canada, Curling Canada and BC Lotteries Corporation.
“The BCHL has a tremendous reputation in hockey development,” said Hebb, a native of Prince Rupert, B.C. “I’m pleased to continue the good work that’s been done, to give young men a platform to grow as hockey players and a path to a great career. But, I also look forward to helping our 17 teams raise their profile, increase league revenues and solidify our position as the best Junior A hockey league in North America.”
Hebb won a national title with the University of Victoria Vikings basketball team, and graduated from UVic with a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics. He began his professional career as an anchor and producer with CKVU (now City TV) and BCTV (now Global BC).
Grisdale was the longest-serving commissioner in BCHL history, holding the job from 2003 until he stepped down earlier this year.
Board approves rule changes
Also in June, the BCHL Board of Governors approved a new overtime format and a new icing rule.
Under the new overtime format for the 2018-19 season, if teams are tied at the end of regulation time, they will go to five minutes of three-on-three overtime. If that doesn’t decide the game, it will be followed by a three-player shootout, with more shooters as necessary. The overtime format is now identical to that of the NHL.
The new hybrid icing rule is also similar to that of the NHL. Until now, the BCHL has used automatic icing, but the new system introduces a race for the puck to determine if icing will be called or not.
BCHL ties draft record
In the NHL Entry draft on June 22-23, a record-tying seven BCHL players were selected, including a player who once suited up for the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
The first BCHLer picked was Penticton Vees defenceman Johnny Tychonick, who went 48th overall to the Ottawa Senators. He was followed by Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Seth Barton (81st overall to Detroit), Wenatchee Wild blueliner Slava Demin (99th to Vegas), Wenatchee forward and BCHL MVP Jasper Weatherby (102nd to San Jose), Langley Rivermen forward Angus Crookshank (126th to Ottawa), Vernon Vipers forward Brett Stapley (190th to Montreal), and Vipers goalie Ty Taylor (214th to Tampa Bay).
Stapley played his first BCHL game with the Caps as an AP in 2014-15 before signing with the Vipers for the next three seasons. His older brother, Mitch, was a rookie with the Caps in 2014-15.
This is the third time since the NHL went to a seven-round draft format in 2005 that the BCHL has had seven players picked. The mark was previously reached in 2007 and 2013.