- BC Games
Connect with Us
Blazers bid adieu to Bozon in blockbuster deal
Tim Bozon wanted out of the Tournament Capital. Kamloops Blazers' general manager Craig Bonner was happy to oblige.
Kamloops shipped the Swiss-import forward to the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
"I thought he was unhappy and it was pretty evident in his play," Bonner told KTW.
"He wasn't happy here and we weren't real happy with the way he was playing."
Kamloops sent Bozon and defenceman Landon Cross, both 19, to the Cranbrook-based club in exchange for 17-year-old forward Collin Shirley, 18-year-old defenceman Matt Thomas, first- and fifth-round picks in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft and a third-round selection in 2014.
"I love Kamloops and, for sure, even if we had a winning team this year, I wanted to stay," said Bozon, who signed with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens in May.
"But, it's the way junior hockey is. We lost a lot of players and I probably didn't fit well with this new group."
Bozon and his agent, Rollie Thompson, approached Bonner about two weeks ago and the parties agreed the move was best for both teams.
"I could see it coming," Bonner said.
"There was a big change for him from the last two years, with who he was playing with . . . with the way everything was going and how his play was."
The Blazers' 27th overall pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft had an explosive start to his WHL career, recording 36 goals and 71 points in the 2011-2012 campaign.
To say he found chemistry playing on a line with Colin Smith and JC Lipon — both now signed with NHL clubs — is an understatement and Bozon's encore performance last season was impressive.
The man of many languages — he speaks four: English, French, German and Italian — reached 91 points in the 2012-2013 WHL campaign, tallying 36 goals to match the previous season's total.
But, as Bonner alluded to, Bozon's surroundings this season were different, with the Blazers having lost nine of their best players, including Smith and Lipon, both of whom are trying to catch on in the American Hockey League.
The left-winger's play has been sporadic at best through 13 games and Bozon's body language on many nights was indicative of a player who lacked inspiration.
Amidst the lacklustre effort and inconsistency, there were flashes of brilliance, like when Bozon buried two goals in a 3-1 win over Seattle on Oct. 16, with both markers demonstrating how deadly he is capable of being.
That game, as it turned out, would be his last playing in Blue and Orange at Interior Savings Centre.
He has three goals and seven points, to go along with a minus-five rating.
"I've known I would be traded for two weeks and for sure it's been weird," Bozon said.
"I've been part of the leadership group and I didn't say a word. Maybe people will be like, 'Whoa, why is he not talking anymore?' That was the reason. I knew I was getting traded. I had nothing to say anymore . . . just be patient and wait for the trade."
Shirley, a 6-foot-2, 181-pound forward, had a solid rookie campaign, notching nine goals and 23 points.
He's had a slow start this season, but Shirley arrives in Kamloops with some pedigree, having been drafted by the Ice in the first round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, while Thomas is an unproven, undrafted blue-liner.
The Blazers traded away draft picks on their quest for WHL championships over the last two years and, earlier this season, they sent a third-round pick to Red Deer in exchange for forward Tyson Ness.
Bonner was happy to recoup some of those picks in the deal with the Ice.
Cross has been with the Blazers since 2010, recording three goals and 24 points, along with a plus-22 rating and 84 penalty minutes.
"Landon had been here for three years and I thought he looked a little bit stale at times," Bonner said.
"Change for him is good, too."
The trade is about the present for Kootenay and the future for Kamloops.
"With as competitive as the Eastern Conference is and with goals being so hard to come by, this was an opportunity to add one of the WHL's premier goal scorers to our lineup," said Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth, whose team sits sixth in the conference with a 6-5-2-0 record.
"We are also adding a top-four defenceman that will help solidify and give more depth to our blue-line group."
Blazer fans will wonder what this deal means for them now — for the remainder of this season.
"It's a fair question," Bonner said.
"The reality is, with older players in our lineup, we were 4-9. I don't look at it as we're downgrading for this year. If we're happy with where we're at with our record, we've got issues.
"It's an opportunity now, especially for our captain [Matt Needham], to really take over our team and become the leader."
In a conversation with KTW, Needham wished both his former teammates well, noting it was evident at times Bozon was unhappy with the scenery in the River City.
Kootenay's newest additions will return to Kamloops on Dec. 6, when the Blazers host the Ice at ISC.
That's when Blazer Nation will have its chance to voice its opinion of the departed.
"I want to win all the time and, in the situation that we're in now, it's been tough," Bozon said.
"It should be the last year in my junior career, my last 50 games, and for sure I want to finish it up with a great experience.
"I had two great years here and I want to thank the Blazers for that."