John Grisdale will retire as commissioner of the B.C. Hockey League at the end of this season, his 15th in charge of the Junior A circuit.
Grisdale is the first person to have taken on the title of commissioner and he has held the league’s top job longer than anybody in league history. He succeeded Ron Boileau, who was league president, in 2003.
Prior to that, Grisdale was a partner for 18 years in a successful industrial insulation company.
In his playing career, after graduating from NCAA Michigan Tech, he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs but was traded to Vancouver in 1974 and spent the bulk of his 250-game NHL career with the Canucks.
“The BCHL has meant a lot to me and I’m happy with the work we’ve done but the time is right for me to step aside and let a new face run the show,” said Grisdale. “I believe the league is in a good place and I think I’m leaving it in a better position than when I began so I take great pride in that.
“The strength of our league is in our history, 56 seasons now, and in our 17 member franchises. Our league enjoys an overwhelmingly positive reputation in the hockey world and there are so many people that deserve credit, including our owners and coaches as well as our volunteers, billet families, broadcasters and marketing directors.”
BCHL teams have claimed five RBC Cup national Junior A titles in Grisdale’s time and 67 BCHL players have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft including five first-rounders. For 2017-18, there are already 120 players in the BCHL committed to NCAA Division I hockey, more than all the other Canadian Junior A leagues combined. By the end of this season, the BCHL should top its record set in the 2016-17 season of 151 college-committed players.
Going back to the start of Grisdale’s tenure, it was his vision that ushered the BCHL into the Internet age with the creation of the league website for the 2003-04 season and the introduction of pay-per-listen audio broadcasts which have given way to today’s pay-per-view broadcasts of all games. The league is a constant draw for scouts from the college and professional ranks and remains a destination of choice for players planning to advance to the next level.
“John’s contributions to the BCHL are significant and we certainly respect the job he’s done as commissioner,” said Mark Cheyne, owner of the West Kelowna Warriors and the interim chairman of the BCHL board of directors. “Because John established such a high standard when he started for the operation of the league, we now attract top players from across North America and have a proven record in developing them for college and pro hockey and for success in life.”
The remainder of the 2017-18 season will proceed as planned and Grisdale’s last official day as commissioner will be on June 1. The BCHL board of governors has begun a search process to find Grisdale’s successor and will be accepting applications starting immediately.
Grisdale was in Vernon for the final BCHL game at Civic Arena in early January and returned two weeks later to pay last respects to longtime Vipers’ owner Duncan Wray.