It didn’t take long for Stu MacGregor, the new general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, to let folks know that he hasn’t given up on this season.
MacGregor, who replaced Craig Bonner on Tuesday, made a trade during his first full day on the job that delivered exactly that message.
MacGregor sent a third-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for forward Gage
Quinney, a 20-year-old who is joining his third WHL team.
Despite the Blazers having a 1-6-0 record, MacGregor obviously has his sites set on a playoff spot, and he is hoping that Quinney will be able to add some offence to a team that has struggled to score.
Chances are that head coach Don Hay will want to put Quinney on a line with Matt Needham and Deven Sideroff, once the latter has recovered from an illness that has prevented him from playing yet this season. Last season, Needham and Sideroff combined with Cole Ully to form one of the WHL’s most dangerous forward units. Ully, 20, now is with the AHL’s Texas Stars.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Quinney has seven points, two of them goals, with the Rockets this season. The Rockets acquired the Las Vegas native from the Prince Albert Raiders last season. he had 31 points, 10 of them goals, in 38 games with Kelowna last season, then added 13 points in 15 playoff games and five points, four of them goals, in five Memorial Cup games. In 134 regular-season WHL games, he has 69 points, including 26 goals.
Quinney’s father, Ken, played four seasons (1981-85) with the WHL’s Calgary Wranglers. A younger brother, Landon, 17, is with the Moose Jaw Warriors. As they acquired Quinney, the Blazers placed forward Luke Harrison, 20, on waivers. Harrison had been pointless in four games.
On Thursday morning, with the deadline to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds arriving, the Blazers dealt Marc
McNulty, 20, to Moose Jaw for Dallas Valentine, 19, in a swap of defencemen.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Valentine, who is from Lousana, Alta., had 36 points, including six goals, in 157 games with the Warriors. He has a goal and an assist in six games this season.
McNulty was acquired last season from the Prince George Cougars. This season, he had one goal in four games. Last season, he had 12 points, three of them goals, in 30 games with the Blazers. In 204 regular-season games, he has 85 points, including 34 goals.
McNulty will be going home in a sense. He was raised in Moose Jaw, before moving to Medicine Hat.
Harrison, who is from West Kelowna, had 24 points, including 13 goals, in 89 games with the Blazers. They acquired him from the Victoria Royals during the 2013-14 season. His BCHL rights belong to the West Kelowna Warriors.
Quinney and Valentine are expected to be in the Blazers lineup on Friday night against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. The Blazers then are scheduled to play the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday, before returning home to face the Victoria Royals on Wednesday.
When all the moves were done, the Blazers were left with Quinney, Needham and defenceman Ryan Rehill as their three 20-year-olds on a 25-man roster that includes two goaltenders and eight defencemen.
Over the past while, I have spoken with a few hockey coaches, who were quite upfront in sharing their stories with me. Those conversations have turned into an eBook — A Coaching Life — that is available for free by clicking right here.