Salsa Making Great Changes

Victoria's junior hockey A team is spitting out its chili pepper in favour
of claws and teeth. Beginning in the 2006-07 season, Grizzlies will be
moving into the den at Bear Mountain Arena. The name change from Salsa to
Grizzlies, which came too late for the upcoming B.C. Hockey League season,
was unveiled at Bear Mountain Resort on Tuesday. The press conference also
confirmed that former NHLer Len Barrie was joining the team's ownership
group.

“It was a unique name, but it's run its course. This is a step up to
something new,” said Mark Wagstaff, who retains 51 per cent of the team with
his wife Dorothy, while Barrie holds 25 per cent, and business manager Reza
Binab 24 per cent. “The nice thing about this name is you can work so many
things off it.”

“It's pretty hard to put a mascot together for a Salsa.”

The Grizzly logo, with fangs bared, is a fierce departure from the Salsa's
trademark, which, before it was redone, was comically tagged as Gumby, or
pickles. When friends heard Barrie was buying into the team, their first
comment was: “You're going to change the name, right?,” the Bear Mountain
Resort developer said. “It's important that kids like the logo.”

The Grizzlies will sport black, white, and gold jerseys with paws and claw
marks down the sleeves. Although the Salsa will only be able to
surreptitiously slide their new jerseys onto the ice occasionally this
season, it's a look that will be widespread around the West Shore. From now
on, all Juan de Fuca minor hockey organization teams will be known as
Grizzlies. Barrie, who coaches his 14-year-old son Tyson and a team of
bantams, said the Salsa/Grizzlies group is buying jerseys for the minor
hockey players, who have not had new duds in a dozen or so years.

“They'll actually be putting on jerseys that don't have holes in them,” said
Barrie. He added that Tyson, who's over at an elite camp at North Shore, has
already nixed ever playing for the Grizzlies, because of what people would
say.

“He has to play somewhere else, he informed me.”

A desire to give youngsters the benefit of his support and expertise is the
impetus behind Barrie's involvement with the Salsa. Knowing how difficult it
is for young kids to leave home to further their hockey careers, Barrie
wants players coming to Victoria to have the best of everything, from sticks
and road trips to food and billets. It's a reputation not necessarily
associated with Victoria in the past.

“You have to show them you care,” he said. “We want people to come to us,
and say we want to be part of this organization.”

From Wagstaff's perspective, Barrie's commitment opens doors of knowledge
and connections across the continent. Along with Barrie's “enthusiasm and
youth,” he knows a myriad of coaches and agents who can identify players and
steer them in the direction of Vancouver Island.

“That stuff is done all the time, but we had no network to put that
together,” Wagstaff said. “The synergies are really good. We've looked after
the business and the corporate side [of the Salsa], now the thing we need is
the hockey side looked after better, and I think we've done that.”