The firing of West Kelowna Warriors head coach Geoff Grimwood, just 17 days into the job, and three days before the start of the 2018 BCHL season, appears to have left the players angry.
To protest Grimwood’s firing, the players reportedly left the ice part way through Tuesday’s practice, and several have added their names to a growing social media protest dubbed “Grimmergate.”
“What’s happening is not right,” wrote player Cavin Tilsley on Twitter. In a subsequent tweet, he wrote “We want out coach back,” and he posted a picture of the team with the tweet: “Together we stand. #grimmergate.”
Several other players including Bennett Nolin and Willie Reim added their names to a growing list using the hashtag #grimmergate.
The team has named Jason Beckett as Grimwood’s replacement as head coach.
— Cavin Tilsley (@CavinTilsley) September 5, 2018
“Fair to say the West Kelowna Warriors players are not happy with their team owner’s sudden firing of head coach Geoff Grimwood,” wrote sports commentator Tyler King on Twitter. “Haven’t seen open revolt by players in junior hockey since the Flint Firebirds of the OHL, which was a very similar scenario.”
Grimwood was named interim head coach at the end of August when former long-time Warriors head coach Ryan Ferster the team quit abruptly, just days before training camp was scheduled to open.
The team was sold to Kim Dobranski by former owner Mark Cheyne earlier this year and under Dobranski, several high-level team personnel have left, including Ferster, Grimwood, assistant coach Matt Miller, long-time athletic therapist Mike Bois and play-by-play man Trevor Miller.
Calls to the Warriors’ office and Dobranski Wednesday both went straight to voice mail and were not immediately returned.
Last week, Dobranski touted the re-branding of the team, predicting the Warriors would be the “jewel” of the BCHL, and by Christmas the public would wonder “how we were able to turn around this franchise so quick.”
Fair to say the West Kelowna Warriors players are not happy with their team owner's sudden firing of head coach Geoff Grimwood. Haven't seen open revolt by players in junior hockey since the Flint Firebirds of the OHL, which was a very similar scenario. #BCHL pic.twitter.com/ipsm0YMcpw
— Tyler King (@tyler_king) September 5, 2018
The team has fallen since winning the national Junior A championship RBC Cup in 2016 and then being saved from a potential move out of the city with a successful rally of public support. When Cheyne sold the team, he said was losing money owning and operating it.
The team has hired a new director of marketing and public relations, Kristi Hennessy, and a new director of entertainment and game day operations, Mike Schell.
The Warriors will open the season Friday night in Trail against the Smoke Eaters. They will host Trail Saturday night at Royal LePage Place for their 2018 home opener.
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