Former Vancouver Canuck Kyle Wellwood is the second member of the Simon Fraser University Men’s Hockey recruiting class for the 2016/17 season. Wellwood will be returning to competitive hockey for the first time since wrapping up his professional career in 2013/14 with EV Zug of the Swiss National League. This signing comes on the heels of Danielle Dube suiting up for the UBC Thunderbirds at age 39 and leading them to the CIS Women’s Hockey national championship this past season.
Wellwood played 539 NHL games (489 regular season and 40 playoffs), collecting 96 goals and 159 assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets. Before turning pro, he put up staggering numbers in the Ontario Hockey League, including 100 points in 57 games during his final season with the Windsor Spitfires.
“What else can I say? Kyle brings over 500 games of professional hockey experience and that will be a massive boost to this program,” said SFU Head Coach Mark Coletta. While the BCIHL has had players join the league after some professional experience, this will be the first time a former NHL player has played in the league. The signing fits within BCIHL rules, as Wellwood has never played collegiate hockey. Due to the time he spent playing professional hockey, Wellwood will only be allowed two years of eligibility as opposed to the five years players are typically permitted. “While it’s unfortunate we’ll only have Kyle for two seasons, we feel his addition to our roster makes us the team to beat while he is here,” added Coletta.
While the move may seem surprising on the surface, the groundwork for this signing was laid during the 2016 BCIHL University Showcase in January. Wellwood was a part of the event as a member of the Vancouver Canucks Alumni, taking part in autograph sessions and in the broadcast. He was introduced to Head Coach Coletta and was impressed by the level of play in the BCIHL. When asked about why he decided to join the Clan, Wellwood said, “I’ve missed the game since retiring from pro hockey, and this will give me the opportunity to play competitively again while also getting a great education from a premier academic institution.”
Wellwood is the second recruit for the 2016-17 season for SFU. The Clan are poised to have a very strong recruiting class as they look to bounce back after a disappointing end to the 2015/16 season.
When it came down to deciding on which number he will wear, Kyle settled on the number 41. While local fans will remember him wearing 42 as a member of the Canucks, 41 will represent the date he officially signed with the SFU Clan—April 1st.
SFU Men’s Hockey was re-established in 2004 and competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League. The program focuses on competition, academics, and community service as its core values. For more information about the SFU Hockey program, please visit www.sfuhockey.com.