Story by Christian J. Stewart and Scott Harrigan (ISN)
November 30, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Grizzlies Junior A hockey club will officially announce Monday that Head Coach and GM Brad Knight has steppped down from his duties with the BCHL team and that Craig Didmon will resume those duties with the club, picking up where he left off after replacing Bill Bestwick last season.
Grizzlies Head Coach and GM Brad Knight has stepped down from his roles with the club (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Specific reasons for Knight’s departure were not provided Sunday by the team, nor could Knight be reached directly for comment, but the Grizzlies have noted that there will be a media event Monday at The Q Centre to make the official announcement and clarify the details.
Grizzlies owner John Wilson was available for comment and did provide some insight to the situation, “We have ten owners who are contributing a significant amount of money to get this team back on its feet. We were looking for one person to come in and provide some stability and turn this team around, both on and off the ice. Last year we had a winning team and a bad year at the box office. So far this year we are having a mediocre year on the ice and another bad year at the box office, so if anything, things have worsened. In retrospect, perhaps having one person running both the on-ice and business aspects of the club was too much to ask. I think Brad realized that as well and felt that the business distractions were taking away from the on-ice performance of the team and that it would be best for all if he stepped down from both his roles with the club.”
Wilson also added that, like last year, Didmon’s role will be on an interim basis, with a specific mandate moving forward and that everything will be re-evaluated at the end of the year.
There was no word yet on the status of Grizzlies Assistant Coaches Scott Hawthorne and Micah Aivazoff. Hawthorne was with the team last season under Didmon, but Aivazoff came to the team this year along with Knight. Hawthorne and Aivazoff could not be reached for comment Sunday.
The move marks the tenth head coaching change that the team has had in the last eight years, including Didmon’s stint last year.
Knight, in his first year behind the bench at the BCHL level, guided the Grizzlies to a 11-10-0-5 record, good enough for just fourth place in the Island Division. He previously coached the Nanaimo Buccaneers of the VIJHL. Many suspect that the team’s mediocre record thus far was a key issue in his release, but dwindling attendance at the rink and budgetary considerations that constricted what he could do off the ice may have also factored strongly in his decision to leave. As hinted at in Wilson’s comments, more than likely if the team were winning and the stands were full, Knight would still be behind the bench and in his office at The Q Centre.
Knight (centre) had led the Grizzlies to a 11-10-0-5 record this season and a 4th place position in the Coastal Division. No word yet on the fate of assistant coaches Scott Hawthorne (left) and Micah Aivazoff (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The team will now be looking to Didmon to pick-up where he left off last season and hopefully right the ship and get the Grizzlies back into contention in the Coastal Division and a shot at the playoffs. Under Bestwick and then Didmon, the Grizzlies soared to a 37-15-3-3 record and finished first in the Island Division and second overall in the BCHL, just two points back of Langley.
That part may be the easy part for Didmon. A much more difficult task for Didmon and the owners, will be seeing what they can do to bring more fans back to the arena and restore the Grizzlies to the proud and well-supported team that they once were.
Making a coaching and GM change might be one step in that direction, but there is much more work to be done in that regard. Time will tell how that goes.
Stay tuned to ISN for more details following Monday’s press event.