Kelowna Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton and Head Coach Jason Smith will be in Edmonton on Thursday, August 9th and Friday, August 10th as the Western Hockey League will be staging a WHL Leadership Conference in conjunction with the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the Centre ICE Summit.
With world-class development as an ongoing priority for the WHL and its 22 member Clubs, all WHL General Managers, Head Coaches and other members of their hockey operations and coaching staffs, will be in attendance to participate in the two-day conference which will include a series of information sharing and educational sessions.
“The WHL Leadership Conference not only provides a unique development opportunity for WHL Club management and coaching personnel but also members of our WHL officiating staff,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The WHL prides itself on being a world-leading development league and the WHL Leadership Conference further demonstrates our commitment to continue providing a world-class experience for our players, coaches and officials.”
The focus of the WHL Leadership Conference will be on making further enhancements to the WHL’s world-class player experience and to review a number of new hockey operations and development initiatives prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
The WHL Leadership Conference will provide those in attendance with an outstanding professional development opportunity featuring NHL General Managers and Head Coaches, along with leading instructors at the international level. The WHL Leadership Conference provides an unparalleled opportunity for WHL General Managers, Coaches and Officials to engage with some of hockey’s most talented and knowledgeable individuals as they continue to develop in their respective areas of responsibility.
The WHL Leadership Conference will feature presentations from three NHL General Managers, including Kevin Cheveldayoff (Blaine Lake, Sask. / Winnipeg Jets / Brandon Wheat Kings), Brad Treliving (Penticton, B.C. / Calgary Flames / Brandon Wheat Kings) and Peter Chiarelli (Nepean, Ont. / Edmonton Oilers). In addition, three NHL Coaches with previous WHL playing and coaching experience will present, including Mike Babcock (Saskatoon / Toronto Maple Leafs / Spokane Chiefs), Todd McLellan (Melville, Sask. / Edmonton Oilers / Swift Current Broncos) and Glen Gulutzan (Hudson Bay, Sask. / Edmonton Oilers / Saskatoon Blades).
“Anytime you have the chance to meet, be around, listen to, and take in information from people that work in the best league, it can only make you better,” said Rockets Head Coach Jason Smith. “And we’re trying to get better everyday.”
Members of the WHL officiating staff will also be participating in development sessions during the Centre ICE Officiating Summit. Twelve WHL referees and linesmen, along with other officials who will be on ice during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, will be attending special on-ice and classroom seminars conducted by the IIHF, NHL, Hockey Canada and the WHL.
WHL Officials will hear from former NHL Referee Tom Kowal, who was recently appointed as the WHL’s new Officiating Development Coach, while the General Managers will have a session with newly appointed WHL Director, Player Safety Kevin Acheson. Acheson will be responsible for all game-related discipline matters starting this upcoming season.
The WHL Leadership Conference is part of the WHL’s ongoing commitment to player development and the overall player experience. Throughout the 2018 WHL Leadership Conference, those in attendance will be educated on a variety of key WHL initiatives and programs, aimed at further enhancing the WHL player experience, including:
- WHL Player Experience, presented by WHL Commissioner Ron Robison
- WHL Player Safety Seven Point Plan, presented by Alan Millar, WHL Competitions Committee Chair & Moose Jaw Warriors General Manager; and Richard Doerksen, WHL Vice President, Hockey
- WHL Officiating Coaching Development Plan, presented by Kevin Muench, WHL Senior Director, Officiating; and Tom Kowal, WHL Officiating Development Coach
- Managing the Changing Player Environment, presented by Scott Grant, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport; Rob Godfrey, U Sports / Mount Royal University; and Kerri Firza and Steve Kelly, Calgary Police Service
- Working with Today’s Athlete, presented by Paul Dennis, York University High Performance Coach
- Emotional Intelligence, presented by Dr. John Dunn, University of Alberta Sports Psychologist
- WHL Goaltending Development Plan, presented by Dustin Schwartz, WHL Goaltending Consultant & Edmonton Oilers Goaltending Coach
- The Role of the Skills Coach, presented by Sebastian Bordeleau, Montreal Canadiens Skills Consultant
The Centre ICE Summit is a gathering of leaders from the global hockey community, including representatives from the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), National Hockey League (NHL), Hockey Canada and the Western Hockey League (WHL), which provides an opportunity to further promote the development of the game both in Canada and internationally. The Centre ICE Summit will coincide with both the 2018 and 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.