By Woodard, Dale on July 24, 2020.
Even in the grip of a pandemic, Mike Dyck has kept busy.
For the past two weeks, the Lethbridge product, former head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and current head coach of the Vancouver Giants has been back in his hometown and back on the ice, running the United Hockey school alongside his brother Joel and former Hurricane and NHL veteran Mark Greig.
When he’s not doing that, Dyck is also gearing up for Hockey Canada’s virtual National Junior Team Summer Development Camp July 27-31 as an assistant coach for this year’s national squad. He’s also prepping for his day job back in Vancouver with the Giants after the Western Hockey League set Oct. 2 as the start date for the 2020-21 regular season.
In all, a pretty impressive schedule for a season that was wiped out in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously, it threw a wrench into things like it did for everybody,” said Dyck before another on-ice session Wednesday afternoon at the ATB Centre as the players got dressed outside in the toasty weather due to no access to dressing rooms as per pandemic regulations.
“It was probably the right decision. We’re certainly optimistic we’ll have a season. So between getting prepared for that and working with Hockey Canada and getting prepared for our world junior camp next week, it’s actually been a busy summer.”
There were other headlines earlier in the summer as well.
In June, former NHLer Daniel Carcillo and former Lethbridge Hurricane Garrett Taylor filed a class action lawsuit against the Canadian Hockey League, alleging they suffered abuse playing major junior hockey.
Taylor played for the Canes in 2008-09, Dyck’s last season with the team.
The former Hurricanes head coach declined to comment on the case, but his hometown and former players rallied behind him when news of the lawsuit broke.
Twenty-six players from the ’08-09 roster signed a letter to the editor in the June 24 edition of the Lethbridge Herald in response to the lawsuit, defending Dyck and stating their “team became an extended family” over the course of that season.
Other players – including some current members of the Hurricanes – sounded off on social media, offering support and sharing their own experiences playing under Dyck.
But on Wednesday, it was all about the on-ice sessions.
“We have a United Hockey school here/summer camp. These are spring programs that have been obviously carried over,” said Dyck. “So we’re running five different programs right now from bantam to midget groups to two junior pro groups. Our junior pro group is our premier group. With the addition of (current Hurricanes Alex) Cotton and (Dylan) Cozens it obviously raises the level. We have Brandon Davidson, Robbie Klinkhammer and Ridly Greig. It’s a really strong group.
“We’ve been going for a couple of weeks now. We started it the second week in July. We were in a July camp and we run an August camp. For a lot of these guys, they haven’t been on the ice since March and it’s a nice opportunity to get back. But it’s great to be back in Lethbridge and obviously have elite players that I’ve been able to work with through minor hockey into junior hockey.”
Next week, Dyck turns his attention to the national team selection camp as Canada looks to defend last year’s gold medal when the 2021 World Junior Championship takes place Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer.
“It’s a huge honour for me, to be selected to work with this group,” said Dyck. “It’s really exciting and obviously a very big honour.”
With the early-October date set for the start of the WHL season, Dyck gets ready for his third season with the Giants.
“We focus on what we can control and right now that seems to be the date that we’re working towards,” he said.
“We’re going to stick to that. We know lots can happen in between. But again, we’re optimistic that we can make this work. So we’re getting ourselves prepared to start training camp in September sometime and get ready for October 2.”
Dyck said the Giants will have to make some difficult decisions with their 20-year-old situation, which includes Cranbrook native and former Lethbridge Val Matteotti bantam AAA Golden Hawk and former midget AAA Hurricane defenceman Bowen Byram.
“There are a lot of factors that we don’t know, but Bowen (is) a big one,” said Dyck of Byram, who was drafted fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 NHL draft. “If we can get Bowen back, obviously that not only bolsters our team but our backend. We’ve got some good young players coming up. So we should be a pretty good team this year.”
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