Herd the News? Regina GM Talks Trades, Hollywood, and Coaches

GM Geoff King made his first public appearance in over 4 months, and talked with the media for over an hour
by Geoff King | December 21, 2022, 7:31 PM ET

Gordie Douglas

 

Regina, SK

You could feel Regina Bisons GM Geoff King’s smile before you saw it, despite the team's first regulation loss to Montreal (4-2) earlier in the day. King held his first press conference for the home media since before the entry draft, and he held an ear-to-ear grin for the full hour. Why wouldn’t he, with the franchise off to an 8-1-1 start in their first ten games, and tops in the tough Canadian Conference? The focus of the presser was to catch up on the past few months, though, and he promised to talk about on-ice play soon.

 

First, he addressed his absence these past few months, apologizing to all as he has been experience lingering post Covid symptoms that have kept him housebound and out of public. “But it hasn’t stopped me from making moves,” he added.

 

Roster Moves

To recap, since the last update 4 months ago, the Bisons were very active:

  1. King first sent prospect Filip Hallander to Okanagan to protect a number of players from selection by the expansion team. The Sun Devils eventually selected winger Christian Fischer, a loss that hurt the Bisons’ depth but not their core pro roster
  2. Regina then made the most critical trade of King’s short tenure, acquiring veteran netminder Cam Talbot from the Sun Devils shortly after the expansion draft; Regina sent their number 2 prospect Zachary Bolduc (selected 24th overall last year by the Krunch) and their 2022-4th rounder to Okanagan in exchange for the goalie and Havana’s 2022-1st rounder (26th overall). “The seeds for this trade were sown with GM Ryan Borau during our discussions on the protection deal; I wasn’t confident heading into the season with our goaltending situation, considering Carey Prices’s injuries, and Okanagan wanted to make a move for youth. As mentioned before, with Banff holding our first rounder we need to win, and that meant getting a great goalie like Cam.” Talbot had been plucked by the Sun Devils from the Vancouver Vipers, who committed to (2020 Cup-winner with Nova Scotia) Sergei Bobrovsky as their number one.
  3. With Talbot now ensconced as the Bisons’ top goalie heading into the season, King had 5 veteran goalies (Talbot, Jake Allen, Price, Petr Mrazek, and David Rittich) and only 2 protection slots for the waiver draft. With Franchise Player Price untradeable, Allen was soon on the move to London for a pair of 2023 draft picks (3rd and 4th round). Mrazek soon followed to Dublin for Banff’s 2023 5th rounder.
  4. Finally, King finished the lead-up to the entry draft by trading away all their 2022 picks, as he did not feel his amateur scouting system was ready for the quick turnaround. “I could have made some selections, but would have been doing it with incomplete information. So I moved picks for prospects, and future picks.” Notably, the newly acquired Havana 1st was flipped to Dublin for London’s 1st in 2023. Regina’s 6th & 7th round picks were also moved to the Shamrocks for a pair of goaltending prospects, Chase Clark and Hugo Ollas.
  5. After the entry draft, King bought a pair of 2023 and a 2026 draft pick from the Hamilton Steelhawks for cash, as he looked to replenish the futures cupboard that he had been emptying.
  6. A mediocre preseason followed, with the players trying to adjust to relocation of their families to a new city, and new teammates and linemates. Right on the cusp of the regular season, Regina made a final deal, trading defensemen Nick Leddy and forward prospect Prokhor Poltapov (2021-44th overall) to the Jacksonville Gators for blueliner Duncan Keith and winger Tanner Pearson. The acquisition of veteran Keith brought a circle to a close - as GM of the Tokyo Tsunami, King drafted him in the 2002 entry draft (106th overall). He never suited up for the Tsunami though, as he was traded to the Montreal Dragons before eventually making his pro debut with the Philadelphia Fire Ants. A regret King must have felt for the past 20 years, rectified by bringing him to Regina and naming him Captain - though Keith had already announced this would be his final SICHL season.
  7. The last roster move before the official puck drop was the selection of veteran winger Loui Eriksson from the Vancouver Island Norsemen in the waiver draft. A Continental cup-winner with Philadelphia in 2011, Eriksson starts with the GHA Santa Carla Vampires but will be a likely call-up in the event of injuries, and certainly for a playoff run.

Franchise Ownership & Operations

With the roster transactions out of the way, King moved on to business matters: 

“I’m thrilled to announce that Hollywood legends Donald and Kiefer Sutherland have acquired a minority ownership stake in the Regina Bisons franchise. Kiefer has strong connections to Saskatchewan through his mother, Shirley Douglas, who was born in Weyburn, and her father, Tommy Douglas, long-time Premier of the province and named “the Greatest Canadian” in a 2004 survey.

 

“I sat next to Kiefer during a trans-Pacific flight just after I left the Tokyo Tsunami, and we hit it off, and he and I have kept in touch over the last 20 years. He long ago mentioned an interest in diversifying his investments into sports - he also owns a music production company - and I followed up on that comment this past summer when I was brought into Regina. Luckily, he owns a ranch in Montana, a short 1-hour flight just across the border. I popped down, we talked details while fly-fishing, and we struck a handshake deal. He later brought his father, Donald, a legendary actor in his own right, in as an additional investor.

 

“In addition to their financial stake, Kiefer agreed to my request to name the Regina Bisons’ home “The Tommy Douglas Arena” to honour his grandfather, the great Saskatchewanian.

 

"Also, our GHA franchise has been designated the Santa Carla Vampires, in recognition of Kiefer’s standout role as menacing anti-hero David in the 1980s film “The Lost Boys”. The Vampires will play out of Santa Cruz on the California coast just south of San Jose.

 

“Kiefer will be a regular attendee at Bisons home games when he is in Montana, and promises to bring his ranch visiting friends and family. So there’s always a chance you could spot Kiefer, Donald, Jason Patric, or Elisha Cuthbert (… but not Julia Roberts… ) at a Regina Bisons game at the Tommy Douglas Arena!”

 

Team Personnel

Next, he announced what has been apparent to observers, the makeup of the Regina Bisons coaching and scouting staff:

  • Head Coach - Daniel Briere. Briere was on the final Tokyo Tsunami roster, and King cited his success at playing at the highest level despite his small stature being a key attribute to bring to the team; for them to always compete their hardest and battle for every puck, yet do so with an eye to scoring not just smashing the opponent through the boards.
  • Assistant Coach - Geoff Courtnall, who will also assist with Player Development and the Santa Carla Vampires.
  • Assistant Coach (forwards) - Geoff Sanderson
  • Assistant Coach (defensemen) - Geoff Smith
  • Goaltender Consultant - Rick DiPietro. DiPietro was King’s first every first round pick with Tokyo in 2000.
  • Director of Pro Scouting - TBD (ink is not yet dry)
  • Director of Amateur Scouting - Joe Corvo. Corvo was King’s second last draft pick with Tokyo, a 10th rounder in 2002 who put together an impressive 13-season career with 77 goals in 853 games from the blue line, a model for late round selections.
  • Director of European Scouting - Alexander Semin. Semin was King’s final first round pick, in 2002.
  • Santa Carla Vampires Head Coach - Colin White. White was a tough-as-nails d-man for Tokyo.

Official Sweater & Merchandise

Finally, King promised a release of Bison merchandise to the public soon.

 

"You can all see the green and gold Bison sweaters the players are wearing on the ice, but we’ve had a holdup on the production line, it being such a short turnaround from the franchise announcement. I want to see fans in these as much as you want to be wearing a MATTHEWS 34 or TALBOT 33 or KEITH 2. We’re waiting for the delivery any day now."

 

 

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