Tough call for Bruins GM

Shayne Neigum played 76 regular season and six playoff games for Chilliwack after being acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 20-year-old is now off to his next Western Hockey League stop

Shayne Neigum played 76 regular season and six playoff games for Chilliwack after being acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 20-year-old is now off to his next Western Hockey League stop

Most of the time, Marc Habscheid would tell you he’s got a pretty sweet gig.

How many people get paid good bucks to run a hockey franchise?

Habscheid is in his element when he’s on the ice or behind the bench, coaching his Chilliwack Bruins.

He probably feels like one of the luckiest guys in the world strolling into an arena to scout a future draft pick or upcoming opponent.

But like all jobs, it’s not perfect.

Being the Bruins GM means Habscheid has to make some tough decisions, as was the case late last week when he looked at Chilliwack’s four 20 year olds, and decided Shayne Neigum had to go.

Neigum was waived through the league on Thursday and picked up by the Kamloops Blazers, leaving Habscheid with his league-mandated three 20-year-olds; defencemen Brandon Manning and Jeff Einhorn and goaltender Lucas Gore.

On paper, just another transaction.

In reality, anything but.

“It was a very difficult decision to make,” Habscheid admitted. “He’s a character kid, a quality person and he was very popular around here. No matter who it was going to be, it was going to be a very tough decision.”

If Habscheid had let emotion play into his decision, he may have gone another way. But a good GM can’t do that.

He had to look at Chilliwack’s roster objectively and decide which players would benefit the Bruins the most between now and April.

Habscheid’s position was probably clarified the moment Tyler Stahl went down with a concussion, leaving the team with just six WHL-calibre blueliners, one of them (Jesse Zgraggen) a true rookie.

“It was more positional than anything,” Habscheid said of his decision-making process. “It came down to keeping a defenceman or a forward, and it’s unfortunate for Neigum.”

Neigum had been in and out of Chilliwack’s lineup this season, playing four of seven on nights when Braden Gamble replaced Gore in net.

With the recent addition of 18-year-old Mike Forsyth, Chilliwack had the depth to deal with no Neigum. But the Saskatchewan native’s absence will be felt as the Bruins try to replace the grit and leadership he provided.

Like Colton Grant last year, Neigum didn’t provide much offensively (11 goals and 24 points in 76 games), but his contributions went beyond the score sheet.

“He wasn’t fun for other teams to play against, and we’ll see if the group we have can provide that kind of tenacity and grit,” Habscheid said. “We’re aware of it, and if we can’t replace those elements internally, maybe we’ll have to find another guy, or another two guys, who can do that job.”

On the surface, it seems unfortunate that Neigum landed with Kamloops, a team Chilliwack will face six more times in the regular season.

Knowing Neigum, he’ll be jacked for those games and be a thorn in the side of the Bruins, as he was to so many of their opponents.

It would have been an ideal scenario to have him land somewhere in the Eastern conference, but Habscheid said that didn’t even enter into his thought process.

“I’m just really happy he found a good place to go where he’ll play and be in the league,” he said. “It’s tough for these 20 year olds who have to go back to junior A or go somewhere else. He’s such a great kid and I’m happy he’s still playing in our league.”

From day one, Habscheid talked about altering the culture of the Bruins, and acquiring guys like Grant and Neigum was as much about that as it was about on-ice performance.

“He did a lot to change the culture here, and I thanked him for that,” Habscheid said. “Especially the first year, the way these guys view themselves and view the team — to change that you need the leadership within the locker room and he was a big part of that.”

Habscheid and the Bruins have a home ice matchup with the Brandon Wheat Kings tomorrow night (7 p.m.) at Prospera Centre before leaving on a four-game road trip through Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Cranbrook.

Just Posted

AHL president and CEO Scott Howson believes the new Abbotsford franchise is off to a strong early start. (AHL photo)
AHL president: ‘Tremendous success’ selling season ticket deposits for Abbotsford franchise

President and CEO Scott Howson optimistic about new Vancouver Canucks affiliate in Abbotsford

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

The committee to name the new Eagle Mountain elementary school will now not reveal the top three school names until September. (File photo)
Committee to name new Abbotsford elementary school needs more time

Top three Eagle Mountain elementary school names will now be narrowed down by September

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court. Labbee was convicted April 12 for the fatal hit-and-run of 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sentencing hearing scheduled for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Crown will seek jail time for Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the two patients, a man and a woman likely acquired the virus in the hospital

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Homicide investigators say the disappearance of a 33-year-old Burnaby man is linked to ongoing gang warfare in the Lower Mainland. (IHIT)
Disappearance of Burnaby man no accident, foul play suspected: IHIT

Parminder Paul Rai, 33, is known to police for his connection to drug and gang activity, says Sgt. Frank Jang

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read