It was another day of WHL talent moving to the MJHL Wednesday.
The Waywayseecappo Wolverines, taking advantage of the WHL’s recently introduced temporary transfer rule, added Winnipeg Ice centre Cole Muir and Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Chad Nychuk.
The 19-year-olds bring a ton of major-junior experience to the table: Nychuk has 119 WHL games under his belt and Muir has 183.
Both players practised with their new teammates Wednesday and can remain with the club until Dec. 20.
Meanwhile, the Dauphin Kings signed centre Tyson Kozak of the Portland Winterhawks. The 17-year-old from Souris had 29 points in 63 games last season.
In the previous six days, at least 18 WHLers had opted to play for MJHL teams with more signings expected in the coming days.
The decision to add players mid-season was made with caution, Wolverines general manager/head coach Taylor Harnett admitted. He was mindful of the potential disruption and the temporary loss of playing time for some players.
"I’ve been watching this whole situation unfold carefully, I’ve got a lot of advice from people and, you know, we’ll be fine," Harnett said. "I think that the presence of those players will elevate our game and elevate our habits. Our players can feed off of what those players can bring to the locker room, our practices and games."
WHL teams are scheduled to start training camps after Christmas in preparation for a Jan. 8 start to the pandemic-delayed regular season.
"They’re all aware that it’s a temporary thing," said Harnett of his players’ reaction to Nychuk and Muir’s arrival.
"They’ve got to keep that in mind. Of course we talked to our leadership group about the impact in our locker room and everything was positive."
There is a strong local angle to the story: Muir comes from Vista, while Nychuk hails from Rossburn. Both are only a short drive from Waywayseecappo Community Complex, the Wolverines’ home arena.
"Both of them... reached out to me and told me that they grew up coming to our games, watching the Wolverines play and that’s a big deal," said Harnett.
Wayway has another potential addition on its WHL reserve list: defenceman Cole Jordan, 18, of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Harnett said Jordan had not yet reached out to the team about playing in the MJHL.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.