Jordan Ethier, we hardly knew ye.
Less than four weeks after acquiring the 20-year-old Quebec native from the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the Chilliwack Chiefs have sent Ethier packing.
His short tenure ended Wednesday morning with a trade back to Saskatchewan, and the North Battlefords North Stars.
“With Jordan, he never hit his stride and didn’t play to the level he’s supposedly capable of playing at,” said Chiefs head coach and general manager Harvey Smyl. “We didn’t see him being a top six guy and it’s his 20-year-old season. So we decided to make a move to give him a better opportunity.”
When Ethier arrived in Chilliwack Nov. 23, it was at the expense of veteran forward Chris Blessing, who ended up with the NAHL’s Fresno Monsters.
The six-foot-two and 185 pound forward was billed as a rough-and-tumble player, capable of throwing his weight around and contributing to the offence. With eight goals and 14 assists along with 28 penalty minutes in 26 games, Ethier was near point-per-game status with the Ice Wolves.
That part of his game never came west, and while he may have thought of himself as a top sixer, his on-ice performance didn’t warrant it.
“It was probably a proactive move, because we just didn’t think the minutes were going to be what he’d like to get,” Smyl acknowledged. “At the time, we thought it would be a good situation for Chris (Blessing) because there was a team that really, really wanted him bad. And we thought Ethier would work here. It was an experiment that didn’t work out.”
Such moves are easier to make when your team is riding a six-game winning streak, as the Chiefs currently are.
But Smyl said the elements he was looking for in Ethier are elements the Chiefs still need to add to their forward group. And so, he’ll continue his search for a top-six thumper with skill.
“We like the group we have, but if we can better our program, we will,” he said. “We have five 20-year-olds and we’re allowed six so there’s room to manoeuvre.”
On the ice, Smyl’s crew faces three more Interior conference games this weekend as they wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule.
Tomorrow night, Chilliwack is home against the Prince George Spruce Kings, looking to push their winning streak to seven.
The third place Chiefs are also looking to put more space between themselves and the fifth place Spruce Kings in the Interior conference standings.
Coming into the weekend, Chilliwack’s 18-9-0-1 record puts them six points up on Prince George (13-12-2-3), with two games in hand.
Chilliwack and PG have met twice already this season, with the Chiefs taking both meetings. Chilliwack won 4-3 in overtime Nov. 4, with Trevor Hills sniping the winner on a penalty shot.
The Chiefs edged the Sprucies 3-2 in Prince George Nov. 30, with another GWG from Hills.
PG has been muddling along at a win-one-lose-one pace for a while.
Last weekend saw the Spruce Kings lose 4-3 at home to Merritt Friday, tie the Westside Warriors 3-3 on Saturday and beat the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-1 on Sunday.
The Silverbacks are the Saturday opponent for the Chiefs, who hit the road for a long trip to Salmon Arm.
Chilliwack has owned the Silverbacks this year, taking all four head-to-head meetings.
The teams played six days ago, with the Chiefs taking a 4-1 decision at the Sunwave Centre.
The Silverbacks have slipped to seventh in the Interior conference standings, with only the Trail Smoke Eaters sitting between them and the bottom.
Further clouding the offensive outlook is the fact that Zug, Switzerland, native Devin Muller will be headed to Red Deer, AB, on Saturday. He’ll try out for his country for the World Junior Championships on Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton.
“I’d love to have him back but this is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Salmon Arm head coach and general manager Colin O’Hara.
Sunday pits the Chiefs against another team they’ve had good fortune against.
Chilliwack visits the Wesbuild Centre in Vernon, taking on a struggling Vipers squad.
The defending Canadian champs have scuffled to a 14-12-1-2 record, good for fourth in the Interior conference.
The Vipers made a move Sunday night to address their inconsistent play, picking up Victoria Grizzlies captain Sean Robertson in exchange for the rights to Zach McPhee and future considerations.
“He’s another captain and a guy who has played over 200 games in this league,” said Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson. “We needed to get a little older on the back end, and with Luke (Juha) out, we needed some experience.
“We don’t expect him to be a saviour or anything. We just need him to be steady and be part of a shutdown pair (likely beside Ryan Renz). He’s a pretty good all-around defenceman with RBC (Royal Bank Cup) experience. He’s a player we targeted for some time.”
The Chiefs have taken three of four head-to-head meetings, with the three wins coming in convincing fashion. Following this weekend, the next home game is Dec. 28 versus Prince George.
Catch a full weekend wrap in the Tuesday Chilliwack Progress.