Geoff Grimwood, fired as head coach of the West Kelowna Warriors earlier this week is expected to be reinstated today. —Image: The Kindersley Social

Updated: West Kelowna Warriors coach rehired

A news conference has been called for Thursday morning in West Kelowna

Update: 10:50 a.m.

West Kelowna Warriors coach Geoff Grimwood has been rehired, according to a statement issued by the club.

“Our BCHL franchises throughout our league provide an important service to all the communities in which they operate. The effect they have is difficult to measure, but when you hear the personal stories of those who participated in our clubs it reinforces the commitment we all collectively have to help these young men through their own personal journeys,” reads a statement from the club.

“Off the ice, the BCHL clubs are partners and have graciously offered up whatever (assistance) we deem necessary to assist and guide us as we continue to transition this franchise to a new ownership group and new future. We are happy to draw upon them for their advice and wisdom.”

More to come.

Original:

The immediate future of the West Kelowna Warriors B.C. Hockey League team, and who will be behind the bench when the team takes to the ice for its first game of the 2018 season Friday, is expected to be clarified Thursday morning.

A news conference has been scheduled outside Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna amid reports the BCHL is taking over operation of the team and fired head coach Geoff Grimwood is to be reinstated.

Grimwood and team owner Kim Dobranski are both expected to make statements at the news conference.

Grimwood, named interim head coach just 17 days ago after long-time bench boss Rylan Ferster quit days before training camp was scheduled to open, was fired earlier this week prompting players to leave the ice early in protest during a practice. They also skipped practice altogether on Wednesday.

Several players signed their names to a Twitter protest with the hashtag #grimmergate and 20-year-old forward and alternate captain Cavin Tilsley tweeted “We want our coach back.”

He also posted a photo of the players, on a hike Wednesday instead of at practice, with the tweet “Together we stand.”

Late Wednesday, internet hockey writer Gregg Drinnan reported on his Taking Note blog that a source close to the team told him the league has taken over operation of the team from Dobranski. It was Dobranski who fired Grimwood.

Dobranski bought the team from long-time owner Mark Cheyne earlier this year.

The Warriors have seen an exodus of personnel in recent days, including Ferster, Grimwood, one assistant coach, the team’s long-time physical therapist and the team’s play-by-play announcer.

Dobranski had appointed Jason Beckett, who had been coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, as the new head coach but did not make a public announcement of the move Wednesday.

Calls to the Warriors office and to Dobranski earlier Wednesday were not returned.

The news conference in West Kelowna is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

The Warriors are set to open the season Friday in Trail against the Smoke Eaters and then play their home opener the next night at Royal LePage Place.

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