The Surrey Knights are hoping to turn the page on what’s been a difficult two years for their franchise, and that the consultation of former Canucks executives Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning can help steer the hockey team in the right direction.
The Knights went 0-41-3 last year, a record that made national headlines while following on the heels another difficult 4-38-0-2 campaign two years ago when the club was still in Langley. That same season, team owner and then head coach at the time John Craighead was given a six-year suspension by BC Hockey for confronting a Mission City Outlaws coach during an on-ice brawl, according to reports.
Gilman and Henning were well-respected and integral members of the Canucks front office, helping to oversee the franchise during its most successful time in history with back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy wins and making it within one victory of the 2011 Stanley Cup.
Packed with knowledge of the game at its highest level, they will both help advise the Knights, who are part of the 11-team Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League.
“We’re very excited to work with them,” said Amar Gill, Knights co-owner and general manager, in a phone interview. “Total hockey guys — to another level. We’re all going to learn more about the game.
“That kind of credibility and hockey knowledge is incredible.”
The opportunity to discuss hockey with Gilman and Henning, in the hopes of improving the franchise’s fortunes for this upcoming season and into future years, came about through the connections of Craighead, who is still a team owner.
Craighead played five NHL games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1996-97 and had a professional hockey career of 13 years with numerous stops in North America and Europe.
Craighead’s roots in junior hockey date back to the early 1990s with the BC Junior Hockey League, most notably with teams in Surrey and Chilliwack.
“It’s almost like going to school,” said Gill. “I feel we’re pretty lucky – more than lucky to have hockey minds like that.”
Gilman met with both Gill and Craighead, and was asked if he would consider consulting with them on a variety of different levels to help the Knights. The hope is for the franchise to become one of the “exemplary teams” in the PIJHL, Gilman said.
“If I can help and, in turn, it will help some young hockey players, why not do it?” he said.
After a busy offseason of scouting talent for the upcoming season, the Knights open their main training camp from Aug. 22 to 26 at Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre. For details, visit surreyknights.ca.