Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today Matt Bardsley, General Manager of the Kamloops Blazers, has been named the WHL Western Conference Executive of the Year and nominee for the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy (WHL Executive of the Year).
In his second full season as a WHL General Manager, Bardsley oversaw a Kamloops Blazers roster that claimed its first B.C. Division title since 2012, earning a record of 41-18-3-1 through 63 games.
Bardsley executed a number of moves to improve his roster for the 2019-20 WHL season. Adding forward Ryan Hughes and defenceman Max Martin from the WHL’s East Division, the pair played key roles in the Blazers attaining the fifth-best record in the WHL this season. Bardsley then bolstered his defence at the 2020 WHL Trade Deadline, acquiring Libor Zabransky from the Moose Jaw Warriors to provide a stronger veteran presence down the stretch.
Bardsley also saw the previous acquisition of forward Zane Franklin, his first trade as General Manager in the summer of 2018, come to fruition as the Marwayne, Alta. product captained the team and was fourth in WHL scoring with 91 points (29G-62A). Noted for his acumen in identifying and developing talented players, Bardsley is ensuring a bright future in Kamloops for the Blazers.
The Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy honours a WHL Club Executive for their contributions to their team’s overall performance on and off the ice during the WHL Regular Season.
A famed Canadian sports broadcaster, Saunders became known as the radio voice of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. As a commentator and broadcaster, Saunders became the voice of Canadian sport nationally and internationally. Saunders called six Memorial Cup Championships and predominantly called Canadian and World Curling Championships as well. He also commentated at five Olympic Games as well as three Commonwealth Games.
In 1986, Saunders was inducted to Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum, Football Reporters of Canada wing. In 1996, he was inducted to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.
WHL Eastern and Western Conference Executives of the Year are voted upon annually by WHL General Managers and Head Coaches. The winner of the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy for WHL Executive of the Year will be announced on Friday, May 8.
Winners of the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy / WHL Executive of the Year Award (since 2000):
2018-19: Curtis Hunt, Prince Albert Raiders
2017-18: Garry Davidson, Everett Silvertips
2016-17: John Paddock, Regina Pats
2015-16: Peter Anholt, Lethbridge Hurricanes
2014-15: Kelly McCrimmon, Brandon Wheat Kings
2013-14: Cam Hope, Victoria Royals
2012-13: Bob Green, Edmonton Oil Kings
2011-12: Bob Green, Edmonton Oil Kings
2010-11: Lorne Molleken, Saskatoon Blades
2009-10: Kelly McCrimmon, Brandon Wheat Kings
2008-09: Kelly Kisio, Calgary Hitmen
2007-08: Bob Tory, Tri-City Americans
2006-07: Bob Tory, Tri-City Americans
2005-06: Scott Bonner, Vancouver Giants
2004-05: Jeff Chynoweth, Kootenay ICE
2003-04: Kelly Kisio, Calgary Hitmen
2002-03: Bruce Hamilton, Kelowna Rockets
2001-02: Brad McEwen, Swift Current Broncos
2000-01: Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels
1999-00: Tim Speltz, Spokane Chiefs
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.