Prospective owner Ron Walchuk

Former Clippers coach on board for Victoria franchise

Victoria Grizzlies get new owner, and hire former Nanaimo Clippers boss Bill Bestwick as coach and general manager

The Victoria Grizzlies made it official on Wednesday that former Nanaimo Clippers head coach and GM Bill Bestwick will be taking over the same roles for the Colwood-based BCHL franchise.

Vancouver Island Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has purchased the majority ownership of the team from Len Barrie, who also coached the team. Former GM Victor Gervais stepped down after last year’s season, which the Grizzlies finished with a 21-38-1 record.

“One of the worst-kept secrets in the last 24 hours is who’s going to come up and help us to do this,” said Ron Walchuk, president of VISE, at a press conference. “Bill’s a great hockey strategist, he’s got passion in developing young players, he’s proven in the business side of running an organization, so I’m really excited to bring him to the Victoria Grizzlies.”

Bestwick was with the Clippers from 2001 to 2010, during which time the team won the BCHL championship in 2004 and 2007, and played in the Royal Bank Cup national in 2004.

As a current city councillor in Nanaimo, Bestwick said that he will be splitting his time between the two cities, but may distance himself from some committees and will consider his role with the Grizzlies as his primary focus. He said he will be living in Victoria for the majority of the week, while doing a lot of commuting.

Assistant staff have yet to be confirmed, but will likely play an important role for the busy Bestwick.

Attendance for Grizzlies games has been dropping since the arrival of the WHL Royals, but both Bestwick and the owners feel they can get the fans back in the seats by building an exciting, talented and winning team.

“My focus is to really work on the community,” Walchuk said. “Be dominate in this community, bring back our fans and bring back sponsors and have a successful franchise.”

“The city is big enough to coexist with two franchises so long as we provide quality entertainment, and so long as we provide our best effort,” Bestwick said.

“Are we going to compete with them? I don’t really think so. We need to concern ourselves with the product and our presentation and be better at it. And be sure that people feel compelled to support us when they can.”

Coming into the role in mid-June puts him well behind other franchises in terms of building a team in the off season, Bestwick said.

“We’d probably need to score about 10 goals right now with 30 seconds to go in the game. But that’s just part of the challenge.”

The ownership change needs to be approved by the BCHL board of governors.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich’s Shelbourne corridor work set to start despite pandemic

Municipal work is deemed an essential service, keeping the long-term project on track

Report looks at COVID-19’s impact on violence in the family

Police across Canada reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence in 2018

Greater Victoria woman creates ‘call list’ for seniors to tackle loneliness

Call list allows seniors to have some friendly conversation during isolating times

COVID-19: Saanich company joins nation-wide effort to produce 30,000 ventilators

StarFish Medical using a ‘purpose-driven design for rapid manufacturing,’ CEO says

Royal Athletic Park will not be a shelter site during COVID-19 crisis: Victoria mayor

Indoor sites to be coordinated with Island Health, BC Housing

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Most Read