Max Bulawka (10) skates the puck into the Penticton zone during BCHL action at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna, B.C. on Oct. 19. The West Kelowna Warriors beat the Penticton Vees 3-2. (Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)

West Kelowna Warriors owner speaks out about team troubles

At no time did the league “take control”, “step in”, nor are they “running the day to day operations”.

Kim Dobranski, Owner/President of the West Kelowna Warriors Hockey Club has written a statement about the events of last September. It is as follows:

I am very happy to see our organization get much needed media attention and comment on the success we are having. I would like to remind the media that almost 27 per cent of the people in your coverage area lives west of the lake.

I have publicly remained quiet on the events of early September. However, after watching the Global news story today, I think it’s important for the public to understand some facts. Each organization is independent and run their affairs as they see fit. The league and the commissioner, whom is actually an indirect employee of mine via the BCHL board of Governors for which I sit on as an owner, has no authority to step in, control, operate, negotiate, impose or involve themselves in any organization.

Mr. Grimwood, who at the time was my Interim Coach, meaning temporary coach, was released as per the agreement him and I had when Mr. Ferster resigned. Mr. Grimwood was hired as an assistant coach by Mr Ferster, and was to reach out to the new Head coach and seek a continued role. Owners across the BCHL rarely impose an assistant on a Head Coach. The media took this story and sensualized something that was a very common occurrence in this sport.

When our players opted to not attend practice that violated a rule in the CJHL, which is failing to report without cause. When players fail to report they are usually suspended for a duration by the organization. Collectively, the Board of Governors, the Executive Committee and the Commissioner have an interest in ensuring all organizations are able to field a team for games, especially at the beginning of a season. At the time, Trail’s home opener was only a week away and the League was concerned we would not have a team to take to Trail. The Commissioner offered to come to Kelowna and try to help resolve the issue. I agreed, and the Commissioner, Mr Grimwood and I sat in a room and worked out a deal we all thought was fair. After a few days of finalizing the contract over email we held a press conference to announce the hiring of Mr. Grimwood as the coach. The media used the term “reinstate” but that would imply he was the head coach at the time, which he was not.

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At no time did the league “take control”, “step in”, nor are they “running the day to day operations”. It was simply a mediated negotiation to try and get the season going. During those talks there was a concern that players who lead the action would be later punished by being traded to undesirable locations to serve as punishment. To ensure the players felt safe and protected I willingly agreed to allow the league to review all trades to ensure there were no player movements of malice.

When Mr. Ferster resigned I began negations to fill the head coach position. Mr Grimwood was not on my radar as a suitable replacement. However during that time, Mr Grimwood bonded with the players, and the players bonded with him. This relationship was unknown to me, and I had no awareness, nor did I consider the profound impact he was having on the team. Difficult times tend to unite people. Our players not only felt a bond with Geoff, they also united as brothers, willing to stand together for something they felt was wrong. I have said it many times we have a special group here, with lots of talent and skill. A formula for success.

Fast forward to today. The relationships in our organization are strong. Geoff Grimwood, Taurine White, and Matt Miller have done and outstanding job with the hockey operations and have created a winning formula. As I look back, I almost made a terrible mistake, and I am grateful to the players standing up and showing me the best person for the job was right in front of me. I am proud of the young men we have in our organization, and feel fortunate to have the great coaching staff we do. Every one of them has my support 100 per cent. Funny how things work out sometimes!

I encourage everyone to come on out and see the great hockey we offer. If you have never been to a game, I am confident you will leave impressed at the quality of the players and blazing speed of the game, as well as the great fan experience we all work hard to create. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself. You will be back!

Kim Dobranski – Owner/President

West Kelowna Warriors Hockey Club – Proud Member of the BCHL

www.westkelownawarriors.ca

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