EVERETT — When a sports franchise achieves success, other organizations come calling for the talent.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Everett Silvertips director of player personnel Bil La Forge is leaving the organization to become the general manager of the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“It wasn’t something that I was actively pursuing or looking for,” La Forge said. “I just had some options, and with my family felt that the time was probably right right now to go and take the next step in (my) hockey career.”
La Forge is the second high-profile Silvertips employee to take a new job in as many weeks. Longtime assistant coach Mitch Love was named the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades last week. Both did so with the blessing and support of Everett general manager Garry Davidson and chief operating officer Zoran Rajcic.
“Hockey is a game where you emulate what works, and I think that Garry and Zoran have led us in a very positive direction and it’s working very well in Everett,” La Forge said. “People look at that and want to add to their situation and help their organization any way they can.”
La Forge joined the Tips scouting staff in 2008 and just completed his 10th season with the organization. He was named head scout in 2011 and promoted to director of player personnel in 2014.
As Everett’s director of player personnel, La Forge managed the Silvertips scouting staff and worked in coordination with Davidson on the Silvertips 50-player protected list.
La Forge signed a two-year extension after the 2016-17 season.
“Am I surprised? Not one bit,” Davidson said. “Am I disappointed? Yes, because we’re losing a good guy who did great work here, and a good friend.”
Davidson was hired as general manager in 2012 and the two worked closely from that juncture on.
“We were thrown together and we hit it off right away,” Davidson said. “It went really positive. Bil is a bright, young guy who is very well-networked, he sees the game well, and he’s loyal and committed. That’s what made this a tough decision for him.”
In joining Seattle, La Forge takes over for former owner and general manager Russ Farwell, who built the T-Birds teams that won back-to-back Western Conference titles in 2016 and 2017, and claimed the WHL championship in 2017. Farwell sold the the franchise to Dan and Lindsey Leckelt following the 2016-17 season while staying on as general manager — a title he is now relinquishing.
“It’s a great opportunity in Seattle and I’m excited to tackle it, but again I have nothing but respect for Everett and Garry and Zoran and the whole organization,” La Forge said. “It was definitely a bittersweet day. … I’ll always look back fondly at my time in Everett and the way I was treated by the whole Silvertips organization.”
La Forge currently serves as director of the Mount Carmel Hockey Academy in his native Edmonton, Alberta, but is planning to cease activities there and relocate to Kent. He has 18 seasons in personnel or scouting roles in the WHL and American Hockey League. In addition to the Silvertips, he’s worked for the Tri-City Americans, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
In his playing days, La Forge skated in the Ontario Hockey League and Alberta Junior Hockey League before competing collegiately at Augustana University College.
He is a graduate of both Augustana and the University of Alberta. His father, Bill, served as head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, both the Regina Pats and Kamloops Junior Oilers of the WHL, and multiple other teams over a successful coaching career spanning from 1980 until the mid-1990s.
La Forge is married to Nella and they have two daughters.
Davidson said in a statement that the search for the next director of player personnel is underway.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.
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