Sports

Bestwick, Bigos, Santorelli and stuff...

Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the wonderful world of hockey....Bill Bestwick had the Victoria Grizzlies in the B.C. Hockey League’s top-five and all seemed good with the Christmas break nearing.

Then, boom. A new ownership group called a media conference for Monday. Bestwick was not invited.

Bestwick is not answering his cell or home phone but I know he’s back in Nanaimo serving as a city councillor. He used to manage the Beban Park Rec Centre, and along with John Furlong, worked tirelessly to bring the WHL Billings Bighorns to Nanaimo for the 1982-83 season. Furlong went on to be CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Bestwick thinks big, is a respected winner and he won’t be out of hockey long.

The decision to axe Bestwick is believed to stem from past differences between him and co-owner Pete Zubersky, the Grizzlies’ new director of operations, which includes the general manager position he previously held for three-and-a-half seasons during the organization’s time as the Victoria Salsa.

Back then, Bestwick was with the Clippers and their disputes were public. However, Zubersky tells Travis Paterson of Black Press Sports it’s not what led to this week’s decision.

“Hockey is an emotional game for emotional people,” Zubersky said. “There’s a winner and a loser and you’re always going to have friction. On the ice two players can drop the gloves and go toe-to-toe and the next night they’re at home having Thanksgiving dinner and they’re brothers.

“Any differences I had with (Bestwick), I can’t really think of any, but it had nothing to do with this.”

Zuberksy points to the promotion of Craig Didmon, someone the team wants to put its faith in as he is deeply rooted in the West Shore community. Didmon remains the head coach of the Belmont secondary and Spencer middle school hockey academies.

A former player under Bestwick, Didmon sees him as a friend and mentor. Didmon has been Bestwick’s assistant coach/GM for the past one and a half seasons.

“I loved working with (Bestwick) so the situation is tough, however, it’s a quick and easy switch,” said Didmon, who has won two straight as the main bench boss.

Zubersky is also the owner of the Junior B Peninsula Panthers in Sidney.

n Whispers around the league have the Clippers listening to offers for all-star goalie Jayson Argue, who has played more minutes (1,550) than any other goalie except for Cowichan Valley Capital Robin Gusse (1,722).

The Clippers are 10th in the BCHL and likely won’t get past Victoria or the Powell River Kings in the playoffs. Mike Vandekamp recently acquired 19-year-old Tanner Kovacs from the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for future considerations.

Since the Wolverines relocated to Whitecourt from St. Albert before the 2012-13 season, they have had 10 goalies suit up. Kovacs, in his third year with the franchise, had enough and requested a trade.

Argue is 20 and will play college hockey for the Bentley Falcons next year in Watertown, Mass. Kovacs has another year so the Clippers may stock their roster for next year by dealing Argue. They gave up Michael McNicholas and Josh Bryan to the Vipers for Aaron Hadley last year. Hadley shattered a kneecap and played just six games for the Clippers after getting a point a game for Vernon.

n Viper grad Kyle Bigos, traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the San Jose Sharks last season, is playing for the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL.

The 24-year-old d-man has two goals, six points and 36 penalty minutes for the Bulls, whose home is the Cow Palace, former home of the Sharks.

The Bulls opened the season with an epic 18 straight days on the road. From San Francisco to Alaska to Idaho to Utah to Colorado and back again, the Bulls racked up 5,500 air and road miles. The offseason highlight was a Macklemore concert in Utah.

Bigos, who helped the Vipers win the 2009 Royal Bank Cup in Victoria, is joined by BCHL grads C Kyle Bodie (Powell River) and D Damon Kipp (Salmon Arm).

n Mike Santorelli of Burnaby racked up 43 goals and 96 points to lead Vandekamp’s Vipers in the 2003-04 BCHL season.

Santorelli was a 17-year-old and played alongside speedy wingers Mark Nelson and Dustin Claffey.

Santorelli, who billeted with super fan Ariel Tyk that season, has wore six pro jerseys in seven years but appears settled in Vancouver.

Canuck coach John Tortorella told Kevin Woodley of NHL.com Thursday he had never heard of Santorelli going into camp.

“He was off the map for me,” said Tortorella. “I found out pretty quickly who he was when he came in the condition he was in and how he just said, ‘I am going to play here, you are not sending me to Utica.’ With no words said to me, just with his actions, he said, ‘I am not going there,’ and he has continued to go that way.”

With a $550,000 salary, Santorelli tops the NHL “Bargain Hunter” list on CapGeek.com, a ranking based on the amount of money spent per goal, assist, point and ice time.

n Viper grad Aaron Volpatti pulls off some wicked guitar riffs in the rockin’ Washington Capitals’ Christmas card video featuring Alex Ovechin on the tambourine.

It’s a pretty entertaining 66-second clip. Check it out on http://www.monumentalnetwork.com/videos/washington-capitals-2013-holiday-card.

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