Changing the culture in Chilliwack

It’s a work in progress, but Chilliwack Bruins first-year general manager/head coach Marc Habscheid is a man of plentiful patience.

It’s a work in progress, but Chilliwack Bruins first-year general manager/head coach Marc Habscheid is a man of plentiful patience.

The former successful bench boss of the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets knows he won’t turn the Bruins into a championship team in one short season. Although the club has shown some promising signs this fall and on Wednesday posted a rare 6-1 win over their supposed arch-rivals, the Vancouver Giants, the Bruins still have a long road to travel.

“It’s about creating a culture of winning,” Habscheid told the Vancouver Province. “But it takes a while. It doesn’t happen over night. We’re getting closer.”

Wednesday’s win was the third for the Bruins over a league power this season. Chilliwack has also defeated the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans, however . . .

“In the process you’re going to have a game where you beat a team like Calgary and a team like Tri-City and then the next game is a clunker,” said Habscheid, who guided the Rockets to a Memorial Cup championship in 2004. “It all comes down to consistency.”

Habscheid is also trying to convince the Bruins that there’s more to being successful in the WHL than just keeping pace with the Giants.

“Marc has a plan and knows how hard it is to win, so he has a true appreciation of what it takes,” Giants general manager Scott Bonner told the Province. “He doesn’t take me as a guy that worries game-to-game — he’s got a real big-picture focus and that’s why he’s going to be successful. In the past with Chilliwack, if they beat us they were ready to hand out the keys to the city. They were too hung up on what they thought was the issue — us. Marc goes beyond that.”

“Right now I’m not concerned with whether there’s a rivalry with Vancouver, what we’re trying to build is our team and get to a point where our team can compete and win more often than not,” said Habscheid.

“Vancouver’s a good team and we have a lot of respect for them, but our goal isn’t to beat Vancouver. Our goal is to concern ourselves with our franchise and what we need to do to get it to where it needs to be.”

On the move: The Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos completed a major deal earlier this week, with the Rockets sending their leading scorer, Stepan Novotny, and prospect Tanner Clark to Swift Current in exchange for fellow 19-year-old forward Geordie Wudrick. Novotny, a six-foot-one winger from the Czech Republic, racked up 14 goals and 25 points in 23 games with the Rockets, while Wudrick, a 214-pound winger, had eight goals and 14 points in 24 games with the Broncos after notching 35 goals last season. Wudrick, the second overall pick in the 2005 WHL bantam draft, was selected in the third round — 88th overall — of the 2008 NHL entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings and adds size to a Rockets team that has struggled to play a physical style. “Geordie Wudrick is a high-end player that we think we’ll get back next season as an overage player as well. He’s a big guy who can score goals and we think he will help us,” Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton told the Kelowna Daily Courier. “To get something good, you have to give up something good in return,” added Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. “Stepan had a great start for us; he’s a guy with a tremendous amount of skill, with his great breakaway speed and good shot, and Swift Current was very interested in him, and he’ll be a big part of them moving forward. That’s the tough part of hockey: You sometimes lose good players when you’re trying to find pieces to help the team improve.” Broncos GM/head coach Mark Lamb told the Courier that Novotny will play on one of the team’s scoring lines with either one of centres Cody Eakin or Justin Dowling. “(Stepan) is a right-handed shot and he’s got some skill, and we’ve been playing guys on the off-wing and we think Stepan will fit right in,” said Lamb. “There’s good and bad with every player, and Stepan’s statistics speak for themselves. With Geordie, he came into the season with high expectations, really high, considering he’s a high draft pick. He thought he’d have a really good season here, and so did I. But here, everything he did was under a microscope. He’s a bigger player who skates OK, and there were expectations of him to dominate every game. That’s a lot of pressure on a player, and we both realized that maybe it was time for a change. We didn’t shop him around, but in the conversations we had (with Kelowna), this deal really made sense for both players.” . . . The Prince George Cougars placed 20-year-old forward and former Red Deer Rebel Tyler Halliday on WHL waivers this week. The remaining overage players with the Cougars are defencemen Garrett Thiessen and Dallas Jackson, another former Rebel, and forward Alex Rodgers . . . The Tri-City Americans traded the rights to 18-year-old defenceman Lane Werbowski to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2011 WHL bantam draft. Then, in a bigger deal 24 hours later, the Americans reacquired defenceman Eric Mestery from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, in the process giving up a second-round pick in next year’s bantam draft. Mestery and forward Drew Hoff were dealt to the Hurricanes last season in exchange for forward Mitch Fadden and defencemen Cam Stevens and Brock Sutherland. Mestery was selected by the Washington Capitals in the second round of the 2008 NHL entry draft . . . Brandon Wheat Kings forward Matt Calvert is the WHL and CHL player of the week. He earned the honour after scoring five goals and collecting 11 points in three games.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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