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

 

Just Posted

Double lung transplant gives West Shore man second chance

Co-owner of West Shore Barber Shop grateful for every minute of the 16 years transplant has provided

Hallmark movie filming in Oak Bay

Shooting for ‘Sunshine’ continues into June across Greater Victoria

City says traffic pattern on Bay Street Bridge will stay as is until October

Commuters began facing long waits on Tuesday morning after the east-bound lane was closed

Home where Proctor murder took place removed from Langford’s Affordable Housing Program

Langford woman almost purchased home, decided against it after hearing history

PHOTOS: Victoria youth continue to gather for climate action

Local students participated in a global movement calling for climate action

VIDEO: 76th annual Swiftsure sets sail Saturday

Longstanding competition takes off from Victoria’s Inner Harbour May 25

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterrey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read