Captain of an inconsistent team which started the B.C. Hockey League season at 0-5, Sean Robertson of the Victoria Grizzlies was told he may get traded before the Jan. 10 deadline.
Robertson, who turns 21 in February, got the news Sunday night he was being dealt to the defending league champion Vernon Vipers. The defenceman assisted on one-time Viper Jarryd Ten Vaanholt’s overtime goal Sunday as the Grizzlies stopped the Powell River Kings 4-3.
The Vipers gave up the rights to Zach McPhee (on injured reserve with the WHL Everett Silvertips) and future considerations.
“I was told I’d be moved for the right deal and I couldn’t be happier coming to a first-class organization like Vernon,” said Robertson, whose father Alex is a former Victoria TV broadcaster. “We’re kind of an underachieving team. Our record didn’t show how good we really are.”
Robertson is in his fifth B.C. Hockey league season. He has played more than 200 regular-season and 40 playoff games, all in a Victoria uniform.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound product of Cobble Hill (near Victoria) recorded five goals and 43 points in 60 games. This season, Robertson has five goals and 20 points in 32 games.
“He’s another captain and a guy who has played over 200 games in this league,” said Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson. “We needed to get a little older on the back end, and with Luke (Juha) out, we needed some experience.
“We don’t expect him to be a saviour or anything. We just need him to be steady and be part of a shutdown pair (likely beside Ryan Renz). He’s a pretty good all-around defenceman with RBC (Royal Bank Cup) experience. He’s a player we targeted for some time.”
The Grizzlies, who like the Vipers, are fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in their conference, say they are doing Robertson a favour, much like they have with past veterans and captains.
Said GM Vic Gervais: “Jake Baker’s trade last year was different. We traded Sean to get him a scholarship. We traded (Nick) Buchanan to Penticton. Penticton and Vernon are the best two teams in Junior A to get scholarships from, Buchanan just got one, and Robertson will get one if Vernon goes a long ways.
“It’s got nothing to do with Victoria (being a bad place to get a scholarship), we’ve gotten lots of kids scholarships, sometimes (scouts) need to see something different from a player, and after five years, going to a new team can showcase him in a different role, or the same role but on a better team.”
Robertson, who will make his Viper debut Friday night against the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters, is Vernon’s fifth 20-year-old, including injured captain Patrick McGillis. He will add offence to a defensive core which has just four goals.
“I obviously bring experience,” said Robertson, who played Bantam and Midget Rep in Juan de Fuca after starting minor hockey in Duncan.
“I know what to expect. I bring really good leadership which I can expose on and off the ice. You won’t get anything flashy from me. I just take care of my own end first and go from there.”
Meanwhile, Vernon’s Tyler Steel stopped 27 shots and earned first star as the Merritt Centennials iced the Smokies 3-0 Saturday.
The Cents are alone in second place with 40 points in the Interior Conference, three points ahead of the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Vipers and Prince George Spruce Kings share fourth spot with 31 points.