Throughout the final month of the regular season and into the playoffs, we will be sharing Q&As with notable alumni as part of our continued 60th Anniversary celebration.
Today, we speak with Victoria Salsa alumnus Kyle Greentree who played five years in the BCHL and left a lasting impression.
Greentree sits third on the league’s all-time scoring list with 375 points in 266 games and is also third all-time in goals with 183.
He was part of the 2001 Salsa championship team that captured the first Fred Page Cup in franchise history.
After his five seasons in the BCHL, he moved on to the University of Alaska, where he spent three years, before signing a pro contract with the Philadelphia Flyers organization.
That was the start of a 10-year pro career that included NHL games for the Flyers and Calgary Flames, significant individual success at the AHL level and four years touring around European leagues before retiring in 2017.
BCHL: You won the Fred Page Cup in your second season with the Salsa. What do you remember about that year?
Greentree: We had a bunch of older guys. Our captain was Pierre Napert-Frenette. We had guys like Spencer Gilchrist, Jordan Sigalet in net, Aaron Voros and Mike Rossa. It was pretty tough. We played Nanaimo, Burnaby and Merritt. I remember a lot of Game 7s. The Game 7 at home was pretty crazy against Merritt when we won it. I’m from Victoria, so friends and family were there. It was something that we all worked pretty hard towards, but it happened so fast. That’s how playoff runs go. You just get on a roll and start winning.
BCHL: Looking at your numbers, you improved significantly year over year during your BCHL career. By your final season in 2003-04, you led the league in scoring with 115 points in 59 games. What can you say about your development over those five years in Victoria?
Greentree: I guess I would classify myself as a late bloomer. I didn’t really come out of my shell until those later years. I was always improving and it led to success. I played with a lot of good players too. In the latter years, you get stronger and you get to know the league. When you feel more comfortable within the league, you start finding your game. Everyone’s different. I started to find it around 17, 18, 19-years-old. It took me a bit longer.
BCHL: You ended up third all-time in points and third in goals. What does it mean to you to see your name up there with the other great players that have come through the league?
Greentree: It’s pretty humbling, to be honest. You never really play the game to get those achievements. You try to just play as hard as you can and be a good teammate. I was fortunate to play a lot of years in the BCHL in order to get to that point. I’m 38 now and I’ve got a young family. My girls are in hockey too. You reflect on it and it’s pretty cool.
BCHL: I have to ask you about the Salsa logo and branding of the team. It’s at the point now where it’s nostalgic and cool, but what did you think of it back then?
Greentree: It was one of those classic jerseys. It was a random spicy pepper, which you’ll probably never see again. It was really cool. I still have a jersey tucked away. A lot of the fans liked it because it was so unique.
BCHL: After the BCHL you played at the University of Alaska and then you signed with the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Most of your North American pro career was spent in the AHL, but you got into four NHL games with the Flyers and Calgary Flames. What did it mean to you to live that dream?
Greentree: It was unbelievable. When you’re in it, you try to soak it up. You just remember the little things, like the players that you played with and the calibre of the league. You’ve made it. That was the goal. I’m such a huge fan of the game. I’m fortunate to have reached the highest level, even though it was only a couple games. I played 10 years pro and what I’m most proud is the longevity of it.
BCHL: After five years playing pro in North America, you headed to Europe for the back half of your career. What went into that decision?
Greentree: The NHL lockout happened and I was a veteran in the American league. At that time, you were only allowed to dress four or five veterans. With the lockout looming, I kind of saw the pecking order with the guys coming down. I was still at the top of my game with a young family at the time, but I ended up signing in the Austrian league. I had some friends there and former teammates like Curtis Fraser, Adam Naglich that I used to play with. It was kind of like a foot in the door. I headed to Croatia and played a year there, then I travelled on to Switzerland, to Germany and then finished off in Austria. I played in the top leagues there. It was pretty cool to see the different countries and the different styles of play.
BCHL: You retired in 2017. What have you been up to since then?
Greentree: I’m a full-time fire fighter in Burnaby. I love helping people. I love the job. You build relationships, similar to a hockey team. My oldest daughter is full-time into swimming. My youngest is in her first year of hockey. I do a little bit of development on the side, myself. I’m in the rink probably four times a week and I love it. I love the game.
BCHL: With the league celebrating its 60th Anniversary season, when you look back on your time there, what does the BCHL mean to you?
Greentree: It was a huge for my development. For the players that are in the league that are looking to move on, it’s such a great league and a stepping stone, to not only play hockey, but also to get your education and learn to become an adult.
For the full interview with Kyle Greentree, tune in to the latest episode of the BCHL Podcast.