WHL Review: Don Hay wins 500th game as head coach

Vancouver Giants bench boss Don Hay reached a lofty milestone last weekend, then insisted he’s been a fortunate victim of circumstance.

Vancouver Giants bench boss Don Hay reached a lofty milestone last weekend, then insisted he’s been a fortunate victim of circumstance.

“It’s not just a number,” Hay told Gregg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News on Monday, two days after he recorded his 500th WHL coaching win with a 2-1 victory over the Chilliwack Bruins. “It means I’ve been really lucky to work with good people, good organizations in Kamloops and Tri-City and here.”

Hay, who also coached the Kamloops Blazers and Tri-City Americans, is the fourth coach in WHL history to record 500 wins. On the all-time list, he trails Ken Hodge (742), Ernie (Punch) McLean (548) and the late Pat Ginnell (518).

“When you have success it’s got a lot to do with the people around you,” said the seventh-year Giants coach. “You look at the players I’ve had the opportunity to coach and you feel pretty lucky.”

Hay admitted he knew he was closing in on the magical mark, but it didn’t really hit home until the day after.

“It really sank in on Sunday when I got a lot of texts and emails and congratulatory messages from ex-players and coaches around the league and from other coaches,” he told Drinnan. “It starts to sink in and you say, ‘Wow, it is quite a milestone.’ ”

The 56-year-old Hay has turned the page and is trying to keep his team on the straight and narrow. The Giants, a perennial WHL contender, snapped a four-game losing streak with the win over Chilliwack and are a mere four games above .500 at 15-11-13.

That being said, Vancouver sits atop a very tight B.C. Division despite suffering a long list of injuries

“I don’t think we can gauge our team right now,” Hay told Drinnan.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to get everybody back at the same time. We’ll have some decisions to make when we get everybody healthy. Hopefully, by the trade deadline we’ll be healthier.”

On the move: The Lethbridge Hurricanes traded forward Mark Reners to the Vancouver Giants Thursday, getting a fifth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft in return. Reners, 18, was a first-round selection — 18th overall — of the ‘Canes in the 2007 bantam draft and has potted six goals and collected 11 points in 19 games this season . . . Tri-City Americans general manager Bob Tory was a busy man Tuesday. Tory traded prospect Zach McPhee — a 17-year-old winger — to the Everett Silvertips for 19-year-old defenceman Paul Sohor, then moved overage rearguard Zak Stebner and a seventh-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft to Kelowna in exchange for the Rockets’ fourth-round bantam pick in 2011 and their eighth-round pick in 2012. The return of forward Neal Prokop from a broken left femur suffered in March gave the Americans four 20-year-olds, necessitating a move. “It was a difficult decision,” Tory told the Tri-City Herald. “We had to do what is best for the hockey team. I care about them more than just hockey players. Trades have impacts on lives beyond hockey. We wanted to make sure we did what is right for the team and for the players.”

Just notes: Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk is the WHL player of the week for the period ending Dec. 5 after scoring two goals and adding four assists in a pair of wins. A first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in this year’s NHL entry draft, the 18-year-old was also a plus-3 in the two contests.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com