Earlier this month — on Groundhog Day to be precise — many media members who cover the WHL and many WHL insiders were stunned to hear that Everett Silvertips governor Gary Gelinas had fired general manager Doug Soetaert. According to Gelinas, his decision to fire Soetaert was made because Soetaert's contract was expiring and the team determined it was time for a new direction.
More about the firing can be found here on Nick Patterson's Everett Silvertips blog. Nick works for The Everett Herald and is a strong, well-balanced writer. Nick's blog can be found here.
One aspect I found interesting about Gelinas’ press release on firing Soetaert was this snippet: ". . . and the team determined it was time for a new direction."
The same thing was said in Kamloops in 1995 when then Blazers president Colin Day fired GM Bob Brown, and we all know how well that worked out. But for a brief history recap, the firing came 22 days after Kamloops had won the 1995 Memorial Cup, the Blazers’ third national championship in four years. Talk about a surprising decision.
Now, granted, there are major differences between the two firings — Kamloops being a national champion while Everett is in a rebuilding mode and struggling to make the playoffs — but anyone, especially in the WHL, who suggests a new or different direction, well, they simply don't know their WHL history very well. Since that firing, the Blazers have only advanced past the first round just twice (Western Conference final, 1996; league final, 1999).
A faux pas? Maybe, but certainly an ugly one.
Now, according to Gregg Drinnan, Gelinas will introduce Garry Davidson as the team's new GM. Prior to Soetart’s firing, Davidson was the director of player personnel for the Portland Winterhawks. I have respect for Garry, who has certainly put in his WHL dues, having seen him many times at Prospera Place talking to players.
Garry was hired by Portland in Dec., 2008, after a long, long tenure in the B.C. Hockey League as a coach and, later, owner/GM/coach of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but Gelinas has BCHL roots as well, including the purchase of the Langley Hornets and the sudden relocation of said franchise to West Kelowna to become the Westside Warriors. Oddly enough, Everett’s head coach, Mark Ferner, also has BCHL history with the Vernon Vipers.
Vernon, Salmon Arm and Westside are all within an easy drive of each other. Coincidence? Given the oil-and-water relationship between the WHL and BCHL, I find it hard to believe otherwise.
Gelinas will apparently be in Everett to make today's announcement. What I want to know is: Where does Gelinas live? For it looks like he calls Phoenix home, and I also find it odd that a governor doesn’t live near the team he governs — especially when he makes such a major move, like a mid-season firing.
Further, it looks like Gelinas isn't the governor of just one team, but, as the president of Consolidate Sports Holdings, is also the governor of three others (which he says so in the following biographies).
Still, being the governor of four teams does seem excessive — too much in my books. But that's just me. Either way, here's hoping there’s more clarification on exactly why Soetaert was fired.