Chris Hebb stands next to a personalized Toronto Raptors jersey given to him for his 50th birthday by his colleagues at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. (Nick Greenizan/Langley Times Photo)

Hebb lands BCHL commish post

Formerly worked for Orca Bay and Maple Leaf Sports

Brent Mutis

BCHL Media

Chris Hebb is the new commissioner of the B.C. Hockey League.

Hebb is a former senior executive with two of the biggest sports and entertainment companies in Canada — Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment (OBSE) in Vancouver and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) in Toronto.

From 2006 to 2013, Hebb was senior vice-president of Content and Communications for MLSE. Hebb oversaw all broadcast and digital properties for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer and the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. He was also responsible for running their three TV networks (NBATV Canada, GOLTV Canada and Leafs TV).

Before joining MLSE, Hebb spent 11 years with OBSE, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, the Vancouver Grizzlies and General Motors Place. Hebb served as Vice-President of Broadcast and led the organization into the digital age by launching the Canucks website and streaming the first NHL games to ever be viewed online.

More recently, he has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., a company advising sports organizations on business strategy and development. Clients there included Canada Soccer, Oilers Entertainment Group, USports, Vancouver Whitecaps, Hockey Canada, Curling Canada and BC Lotteries Corporation.

“The BCHL has a tremendous reputation in hockey development,” said Hebb, a native of Prince Rupert. “I’m pleased to continue the good work that’s been done, to give young men a platform to grow as hockey players and a path to a great career. But, I also look forward to helping our 17 teams raise their profile, increase league revenues and solidify our position as the best Junior A hockey league in North America.”

Hebb replaces former NHL defenceman John Grisdale, who ran the Junior A league from 2003 to 2018, the longest tenure in league history. Grisdale’s time with the league saw unprecedented growth in numbers of players committed to college, including a league-record 152 players this year alone. Grisdale saw 67 players drafted into the NHL after having played in the BCHL, including the likes of Kyle Turris, Justin Schultz and Tyson Jost.

“Having known Chris for nearly 25 years, I am happy to see him take on this position and look forward to seeing the league grow under his stewardship,” said Rod Brind’Amour, head coach of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and a BCHL parent. His son, Skyler, won a Royal Bank Cup last month with the Chilliwack Chiefs and has an NCAA scholarship with the Michigan State Spartans.

The BCHL’s board of governors had a chance to meet Hebb last week at the league’s annual general meeting in Richmond.

“We are confident with Chris’s background and experience that he is the right person to take our league into a new era,” said Graham Fraser, the chairman of the BCHL board of governors. “During the search process, Chris separated himself from the group of applicants not only with his resume but also with his ideas for taking the BCHL to even greater heights. We are extremely happy to have him on board.”

Hebb’s athletic background includes a national title as a member of the University of Victoria Vikings basketball team that was also inducted into the Basketball BC Hall of Fame. He graduated from UVic with a Bachelor of Arts degree in linguistics. He began his professional career as a sports anchor and television producer with CKVU (now City TV) and BCTV (now Global BC).

The league also approved a new overtime format for next season. Teams will play sudden-death 3-on-3 for five minutes and then proceed to a three-round shootout if still tied. Teams used to go 3-on-3 and then 4-on-4 with no shootout. There were 22 overtime ties last season.

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