Kelowna Rockets’ Bruce Hamilton, has been re-elected to a two-year term as the Western Hockey League's chairman of the board.
The Rockets’ owner, president and general manager earned the support of the board of governors again at the WHL’s annual general meeting that concluded on Wednesday in Vancouver. Hamilton is the longest-serving chairman of the board in WHL history, having held the position since 2008 as well as from 1998 to 2004.
Among the other highlights of the final day of the meetings was the league’s decision to move to hybrid icing for the 2016-17 WHL season and to install new video replay systems in all of its facilities.
Proven successful in the National Hockey League, hybrid icing will be in place next season.
There are two decisions a linesman must make under hybrid icing rules. First, he must determine that the shot from a player’s own side of center ice will cross the icing line in the attacking zone. Second, he must determine whether a defending skater or attacking skater would be the first to touch the puck.
This second decision must be made no later than the instant the first of the players reaches the end zone faceoff spots, although the decision can be made earlier. The skates of the skaters are the determining factor.
The new video replay systems provided by Hawk-Eye Innovations will be installed in all WHL facilities. Hawk-Eye, also the supplier of video replay technology to the NHL and Major League Baseball, will provide WHL video goal judges with improved capabilities for all video review situations.
The WHL also clarified the rule regarding pucks off players’ skates which enter the net. The clarification states that, unless the puck is in the goal crease, a puck that enters the net off of a player’s skate shall be ruled a goal. This will eliminate the need for a decision by the referee and/or video goal judge as to whether it was a distinct kicking motion or not.
Meanwhile, Brent Sutter (Red Deer Rebels) and Russ Farwell (Seattle Thunderbirds) were re-elected to represent the WHL’s Central and U.S. Division, respectively, on the WHL executive committee. Sutter and Farwell rejoin Ron Toigo (Vancouver - B.C. Division) and Gord Broda (Prince Albert - East Division) on the WHL executive committee.
The WHL recently announced its partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association alongside the CHL for the Talk Today program. Also discussed at the AGM was the implementation strategy for the Talk Today program across the WHL this fall.
Talk Today is a proven mental health education program that will help players and team staff identify and deal with mental health issues. It will be implemented by all 60 CHL teams for the 2016-17 season.
In other Kelowna Rockets off-season developments, assistant coaches Kris Mallette and Travis Crickard have both been invited by Hockey Canada to take part in under-17 and under-18 Hockey Canada programs this summer.
Mallette has been named a guest coach for the under-18 program while Crickard has been named video coach for one of Team Canada’s World under-17 teams.
Both Rockets coaches attended a Hockey Canada event on the weekend and were named to their respective positions this week.
“To be able to represent your country in any facet is a huge honour,” said Mallette. “That was a goal for me once I took the position with the Rockets; I wanted to be involved with Hockey Canada. It’s an elite group of coaches and the knowledge you can pick up from everyone is outstanding. It was pretty special to be thought of in that process.”
Mallette will work with the under-18 program as a guest coach before the team takes part in the annual Ivan Hlinka U-18 World Championships this summer.
For his part, Crickard has been named video coach for Team Black that will compete this fall in the World Under-17 championship. Crickard will attend an evaluation camp in late July and will also go to the tournament this fall.
“To me this is really special,” said Crickard. “This is for my country now and it’s like I have a renewed passion for the a game. You have a responsibility to team, family, Hockey Canada and country. I’m really excited for this opportunity to learn from a number of great coaches.”