This trade won’t be a popular one, at least not right now.
The Nanaimo Clippers traded Myles, Gerry and Leo Fitzgerald – their Most Popular Player award winners – to the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday in a seven-player blockbuster deal.
The Fitzgerald forwards and defenceman Jesse Ursic were dealt to the Sprucies in exchange for forward Trevor Fitzgerald and defencemen Josh Bryan and Scott Milnthorp.
Mike Vandekamp, Clippers general manager, said the triplets’ popularity made the trade more difficult.
“That was probably the No. 1 thing that was thought about, actually…” Vandekamp said. “Sometimes you have to separate the hockey side from the marketing side and try to find a happy medium. Hopefully we’ll have the type of team that fans will be excited about again this year.”
The Spruce Kings, he said, maintained that they wanted the triplets as a package deal, while Vandekamp badly wanted Trevor Fitzgerald.
“We’ve been speaking to Prince George on this trade for a long time this off-season, it’s been a lot of communication,” the GM said.
In the end, he feels like it’s a fair trade for both sides and Vandekamp is thrilled to get the big, strong centre he’s been coveting.
“He’s a 200-foot player, he plays all areas of the rink,” said the GM.
Trevor Fitzgerald played last season with the Vernon Vipers, skating in 58 games, scoring seven goals and 18 points and accumulating 55 penalty minutes. The 18-year-old from Vernon is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds.
The Clippers think their new Fitzgerald can recapture the offensive form he showed in junior B, when he scored 67 points in 49 games.
“We believe he will be able to do that,” Vandekamp said. “We think we’re going to get some real good quality minutes from him in a two-way capacity and I know he’s a quality, character kid.”
Bryan is also a highly regarded pickup. The 18-year-old from Sidney is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and played last season with the Victoria Grizzlies. He was chosen the team’s Rookie of the Year after playing 43 games.
“He’s excited to be joining our club and we’re excited to have him joining us,” said the GM.
The Clippers dealt Milnthorp back to his old team, the Grande Prairie Storm, on Monday for future considerations.
Myles, Gerry and Leo Fitzgerald and Ursic are all 17 years old. Gerry played all 60 games last season, scoring eight goals and 27 points and accumulating 38 penalty minutes. Myles also played 60 games, scoring 10 goals and 21 points. Leo played 52 games and had seven goals and 19 points. The triplets are listed at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds. Ursic, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, played 42 games for the Clippers last year, scoring three goals.