By Lethbridge Herald on November 6, 2013.
Ryan Pilon has left the Lethbridge Hurricanes and will await a trade.
Pilon informed the team of his decision to leave on Tuesday, and Hurricanes general manager Brad Robson said he was disappointed with the move, but wouldn’t hesitate to replace the Western Hockey League team’s highest-scoring defenceman.
“Ryan Pilon came in today and requested a trade and we’ll try to accommodate him,” said Robson. “He didn’t want to be here, he didn’t want to be part of our organization, part of the direction of our hockey club and we’ll move on and we’ll move ahead.
“With this move, just like with some of the other guys who didn’t want to be here, we’ll be a better hockey club after this.”
That’s an arguable point, since Pilon’s four goals and three assists lead the defence corps and his minus-seven rating has him behind only Lenny Hackman among regular defencemen. But at 2-13-1-2, Robson said he’d wants players committed to playing hard.
“We’re disappointed but we’re going to move ahead and if players don’t want to be here, they aren’t going to help us win,” said Robson. “And Ryan didn’t want to be here so we’ll move him. We’ll move on, get players that want to be here and we’ll move ahead with the players we have now.”
This makes Pilon the third player to request a trade, after forwards Sam McKechnie and Jaimen Yakubowski late in October. Those two were dealt to Seattle within a week. They were sent home, where Robson made it clear Pilon left the team. He will await the trade at home in Duck Lake, Sask.
Pilon, the former third overall bantam draft pick and Team Canada player should fetch a good return, although with the rest of the league knowing his situation, bidding might start low. At six-foot- two, 212 pounds, Pilon has NHL player written all over him and the Hurricanes have marketed around him and fellow 2011 bantam pick (fifth overall) Reid Duke. With those two touted as building blocks, even the team’s moribund results this season held some hope. Now, the team will move forward without Pilon.
“I’m worried about the 20 guys I have in my room,” said Hurricanes coach Drake Berehowsky. “They’re playing their hearts out every night on the ice and I love them for that.”
The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, and are unlikely to make it this year but are only 11 points behind the Red Deer Rebels, who are in eighth place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes host the 9-9 Regina Pats today at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centre.
Pilon was a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the summer and was an alternate captain for the ’Canes. He was not available for comment, but Robson said the decision involved the team’s struggle to win.
“(It was) our record and he doesn’t feel, well, you’re going to have to talk to him about a lot of it, but by speaking to him, he doesn’t feel there’s been improvement in his play, in the hockey club, in the direction we’re going,” said Robson. “He wants to go in a different direction.”
Forward Russ Maxwell said the team is closer than ever.
“I mean, there’s different ways you can react to (this). You stick with the guys that are here and take it as a positive and we’re going to move forward from it,” said Maxwell. “We’ve been through a lot this season. Losing brings you as close together as anything, and that’s maybe not the way you want to do it but it brings you together and our morale is pretty good.”
Berehowsky said he wouldn’t speculate or speak to Pilon’s motivation, only that the coaching staff had to live with it.
“I’m always looking in the mirror, always looking for improvement,” said Berehowsky. “I’m not the person who will point the finger, I look in the mirror before I look anywhere else.
“We’re a team in here, and like I said, my concern is with the 20 guys in there that want to move forward with this team.”
As for a potential wish list of players, Berehowsky said that’s Robson’s job, not his.
“I think Brad and I are on the same page about what kind of players we want and the first thing we look for is that they want to be here, to be part of this team. I’m not going to tell Brad that, I’m going to keep trying to get better and help the guys that want to be here get better, too.”
NOTES — The Hurricanes confirmed what had already been reported, announcing on Monday that import Belarusian defenceman Kris Khenkel would join the team after the Dec. 22 final game of the B side of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Belarus.
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