Sask. WHL player exploring options after league announces late start for season
Published Friday, August 7, 2020 6:39PM CST Last Updated Friday, August 7, 2020 7:18PM CST
REGINA -- Western Hockey League players are rearranging their off-season plans, after the league announced the start of the season would be delayed until December 4.
Kishaun Gervais, a Kamsack product who plays for the Portland Winterhawks, is headed into his now delayed sophomore campaign in the WHL. He says he was disappointed but prepared for the news.
“I kind of had a feeling this was coming and I just wanted to be prepared for it,” said Gervais. “I looked at it like a lockout – like the NHL. I thought back to what they did. They played over in Switzerland and oversees. So I said, 'hey I’ll go play where I grew up watching my brother play hockey and where I played my first year of junior.”
Gervais tallied eight goals and nine assists in his rookie season with Portland in just 31 games. He has now turned his attention to finding a way to hit the ice a little earlier – planning to join the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Yorkton Terriers – whose season is scheduled to start September 25.
“I'm going to try and bring that energy and try to be a leader,” said Gervais. “It's my second last year of junior so I just want to be a leader for the young guys coming in.”
Gervais has a long standing relationship with the Terriers. He played with them as a 17-year old in 2018-19 and his brother also played for the team that went on to win the RBC Cup in 2014.
In a press conference on Thursday, Regina Pats general manager John Paddock said he expects players to be ready to play, whenever that may be.
“If we can have [players] in earlier somehow, then we can work on that. But there's a different timeframe now here to be at your best.”
Gervais sees this season as an opportunity for the Winterhawks who were first place in the WHL when the league cancelled the rest of the 2020 season on March 23.
“We're coming back with a bitter taste knowing that we had a chance to win the Memorial Cup,” said Gervais. “We're eager and definitely hungry to get back.”
Gervais is not the only player in the WHL to decide to join provincial or state junior hockey teams before the league restarts at the beginning of December. He says some European players have also joined teams oversees.
Turning 19 in November, he says he’s ready for the long, gruelling season that could see him play over 100 games between September 25 and the completion of the Memorial Cup at the end of June.