Citing family reasons, Matt Bardsley announced his resignation as the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager on Tuesday morning.
Bardsley, who left the Portland Winterhawks to sign with the Blazers on June 1, 2018, said in a news release: “This was a very difficult decision for me and my wife, but one we needed to make for our young children. When we moved here in 2018, we planned on making this our home for many years. Unfortunately because of COVID-19, it has restricted our ability to see our family as they reside in the United States.”
Bardsley, 50, grew up in San Jose. He and his wife, Stacy, have two children — Brooke, 5, and Vince 2, who was born in Kamloops. There are grandparents in California and Oregon, who, as Bardsley explained to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, haven’t seen their grandchildren in more than a year. (Hastings’ story is right here.)
“We’re not sure when things are going to change,” Bardsley told Hastings, “but we just felt it was the right decision to make for our family, for the kids, and if we were going to make it, it was right for the organization to do it now, rather than wait until August or September to see where things are at and change then. . . . In the states, it’s a lot more mobile right now. If we are in Portland, Washington or California, we know we can still get to and from to see family, as opposed to waiting to see when things will be lifted.”
Before signing with Kamloops, Bardsley had spent almost 20 years with the Winterhawks, starting as an area scout in 1999. He took over as director of player personnel inn 2007 and was named assistant general manager in 2013.
With Bardsley in the GM’s office, the Blazers had a regular-season record of 87-54-12; he was the Western Conference’s executive of the year for 2019-20. The Blazers won B.C. Division titles each of the past two seasons but, of course, there weren’t any playoffs in the spring of 2020 and the recently completed 2020-21 season was only for developmental purposes.
So now the two WHL teams that finished on top of the U.S. Division and B.C. Division in the 2020-21 developmental season each is without a general manager.
Last week, the Everett Silvertips parted company with Garry Davidson after a nine-year relationship. The Silvertips said that not renewing Davidson’s contract was part of a restructuring process brought on by the pandemic’s impact on the past two seasons. Perhaps they are going to go outside hockey’s box and not have a general manager.
Bardsley told Kamloops media that he doesn’t have a job to go to, nor does he have any immediate plans. He had three years left on his contract with the Blazers, so another team would have to ask permission before being able to speak with him about employment.
According to Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV, Bardsley said that he’s “not sure what is next for me at this time.”
Klassen’s story is right here.
It’s hard to imagine the Brandon Wheat Kings without Rick Dillabough, the hardest worker in all of the WHL, not in their office. But he has made his retirement official, writing on LinkedIn that “after more than 30 years of wonderful memories and service to this great organization, I have decided to step down from my position of Director of Business Operations, Sales and Sponsorship with the Brandon Wheat Kings.”
He added: “I can’t describe how exciting it was to be a part of so many highlights over the years. Two WHL championships, three trips to the Memorial Cup and, of course, having the opportunity to be a member of the host committee that brought the Memorial Cup to Brandon and Manitoba for the first time ever.
“I want to especially thank Kelly McCrimmon for seeking me out in 1989 and inviting me to embark on what turned out to be an incredible journey through the WHL.
“Off the ice, some of my proudest days were having the chance to work with so many talented people. From the coaches, the players, the management and staff, I feel fortunate to have spent so many years with some of the brightest minds in the game. What made it more special is that you always felt that you were a member of a big family — one that worked, supported, cheered and celebrated one another.
“My wife and I will continue to call Brandon home and I look forward to seeing what life has in store.”
So . . . what’s ahead for Dillabough? Well, a source familiar with the situation told Taking Note that Dillabough “is looking forward to retirement and helping his neighbour with his horses.”
Hey, Rick, that sounds like a plan. Enjoy!
Meanwhile, on the COVID-19 front, the province of B.C. unveiled a four-stage re-opening plan on Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, indoor sports could be permitted to play before live crowds starting on Sept. 7. . . . In making the four-stage announcement, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said: “Once we get to September, if the data still shows that we’re on the right track, we can have larger gatherings where we can have audiences.”
Of course, that is more than three months away and a lot can happen between now and then, as we have seen in recent times. But we still are allowed to hope that more and more people get fully vaccinated so that by then we are allowed to begin building what will be our new normal.
The Victoriaville Tigres beat the host Charlottetown Islanders, 2-0, on Tuesday night to advance to the QMJHL final where they will meet the Val-d’Or Foreurs. . . . Victoriaville won the last two games of the best-of-five series for a 3-2 victory. . . . The Foreurs are 9-0 in these playoffs; the Tigres are 9-2 with both losses coming in OT. . . . The Islanders had finished with the QMJHL’s best regular-season record (35-5-0). Geoffrey Brandow notes that this will be the “first time the No. 1 seed has not competed in the championship series since 2003.” . . . In the regular season, the Foreurs finished 29-3-4, second to the Islanders, while the Tigres wound up 16-9-1. . . . The best-of-seven final is scheduled to open Thursday in Val-d’Or.
Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.
JUST NOTES: The QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs have signed head coach Steve Hartley, 35, to a five-year contract extension through 2025-26. He and general manager Philippe Boucher now have matching contracts in terms of length. Hartley, who has been with the Voltigeurs for five seasons, is the son of former NHL coach Bob Hartley, who is the head coach of the host Latvian team at the IIHF World championship in Riga. Bob also is head coach of Avangard Omsk, which won this season’s KHL championship. Steve was an assistant coach for two seasons in Drummondville before moving up for 2018-19. . . . The SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers have signed assistant coach/marketing director Cole McCaig to a two-year extension and also named him assistant general manager. McCaig, who played 123 games with the Bombers over three seasons (2011-14), has been on staff for three seasons. Jon Klassen, who had been the AGM, has moved over to become director of player personnel. . . . Mark Readman, who had been the associate general manager/associate coach with the Creston Thunder Cats, is the new head coach and assistant GM of the Princeton Posse. The junior B teams both play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Mark McNaughton, the Posse’s previous head coach, remains as the general manager. . . . Ray Tremblay has signed on as the first general manager and head coach of the junior B Lake Cowichan Kraken of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Tremblay, 35, was the head coach of the Danville, Ill., Dashers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League in 2019-20.