Vernon’s Troy Mick wasn’t out of work long.
The 49-year-old is headed to Texas to be the first president of the new USA-Central Hockey League, a non-tuition Junior A loop.
Mick earlier this summer left the Salmon Arm SilverBacks of the B.C. Hockey League after serving five years as president.
“Troy Mick has a great hockey background and can only make any league stronger,” said USA-Central League CEO Bill Davidson of Surrey. “I’ve known Troy for many years and with his vision and leadership, I think we will fast become one of the best development leagues in the world.
Mick spent four years as a coach with the BCHL Vernon Vipers, winning one Royal Bank Cup as head coach and another as an assistant to Rob Bremner. He was also an assistant with the Western League Portland Winterhawks and a head coach with the WHL Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.
“I’m honoured and excited for this opportunity and to be part of a new Junior A league is going to be a great experience,” said Mick, a father of two who played minor hockey in Vernon. “The players are going to be playing in state-of-the-art facilities and the communities I have visited so far have been amazing.”
Mick and Davidson, who has been involved in ownership of the BCHL Surrey Eagles, played together with the ECHL Knoxville Cherokees in the 1990-91 season.
“Bill called me out of the blue and I told him Salmon Arm and I had parted ways and he said. ‘You gotta be kidding me, I want you to come run my new league.’ It’s a great set-up and a new challenge. I started that Rocky Mountain junior team in Colorado from scratch, but never an entire league from scratch. It’s going to be a big change.”
Mick and his fiance, Lindsay, will still call Vernon home with Mick travelling back and forth from league offices in Wichita Falls.
“We’re going to have NHL rules and play a 48-game schedule. We’re independent so there is no limit on imports. We’re going to have five or six teams this year and hopefully 12 next year. There are three teams right now with five cities looking at the last three (franchises).”
The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, Laredo Bucks and Wichita Falls Stars are committed to the league.
As a player, Mick amassed 466 points in 267 games playing for the Winterhawks and Regina Pats. Mick sits 13th overall in career points in the WHL. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in round 7, 130th overall, in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft and signed a four-year contract. Multiple knee surgeries forced him to retire after three years in the ECHL.
The roster size for each team in the new league will be a maximum of 23. The USA-Central Hockey League will hold tryout camps Aug. 10-12 in Ottawa and Aug. 17-19 in Chicago. Mick will be hiring coaches in the next few weeks. The league website is www.usachl.com USACHL. Play begins Oct. 26.