KIJHL bids have been turned down for now

League wants to make sure foundation is strong before expansion

Ken Alexander

100 Mile Free Press

The two hockey groups – Williams Lake and Quesnel – that wanted the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) to extend its boundaries north of 100 Mile House have been turned down.

The decision was made at a special meeting of the KIJHL board of governors in Castlegar on Jan. 22.

Early this month, 100 Mile House Wranglers Junior B Hockey Club president and KIJHL governor Tom Bachynski hosted a teleconference with the two applicants and other members of the league’s membership committee to go over the two proposals.

Following the Jan. 8 conference call, Bachynski said both groups had “excellent presentations … which would need some tweaking … from very hockey-minded people.”

The Wranglers governor sent the minutes from the meeting to KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen and then met with him in Penticton on Jan. 10.

Ohlhausen put a package together outlining the membership committee’s recommendations along with his own and sent them to all of the league’s governors.

The Jan. 22 meeting was slated for 11 a.m., but the governors were encouraged to come to an informal gathering at 9:30, Bachynski explained.

“It wasn’t a meeting but rather a conversation about the direction of the league and where it was going to go.”

Bachynski said the conversation started with Ohlhausen announcing he’s into the second to last year of his presidency and he will not be seeking re-election.

“So, the question that was posed was what are we going to do? We have no successorship plan.

“It was the basis of a positive conversation about where the league is going, and how we’re going to fulfill everything Bill does for the league at no cost because we’re never going to get that type of volunteer to take on that position.”

Noting it was a good, open conversation with all the governors there, Bachynski said they decided it might be a good idea to have a commissioner and a secretary that were paid positions.

He added someone suggested the league get a consultant to do a preliminary analysis of the league and what its direction is, should be and could be.

“Instead of us saying we need a commissioner, finding someone and building a job description to fit him, we said ‘let’s get this consultant in and have them develop the framework of what we think we need. Then we build a job description and then we go find the commissioner’.

“I think it’s just the next step of the KI [KIJHL]. It is the best league; we just have to get the infrastructure in place.

“So we know that expanding the KI to Quesnel and Williams Lake is going to be good for the league. But, we couldn’t make that decision on Sunday, that it’s good for the league, because we just don’t know.

He noted there are so many unknown variables.

“I guess we voted ‘no,’ but we really voted to postpone until we know what we’re doing.”

Bachynski said one person summed it up very well:

“Our foundation is crooked right now, and until we shore up our foundation and make it straight, we can’t have a straight roof.

“We all need to know our foundation is solid and we don’t know if it’s solid right now.”

Is it because of the changing of the presidency in a couple of years?

“Yes, we have to decide now what we’re going to look like in 18 months because it has to be a seamless transition.”

When it came time for the application-decision meeting, Bachynski said everyone was basically saying the same thing.

“Now is not the right time because we need to make sure our house is in order.

“Once we get our house in order and somebody can do the proper analysis and can say it’s going to be good for 18 of the 20 teams; it’s going to hurt these two and they’re going to need some help with this and that….

“[The governors] said they fully expect that these two franchises will be part of the KIJHL in the future.”

Bachynski noted it was the league as a group that said ‘no’ and not individuals. It was a league of 20 teams that made that decision, he concluded.

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