(Josh Lewis - Kindersley Clarion)
Larry Wintoneak can be called a lot of things, but flat-footed is not one of them.
When the Flin Flon Bombers made a clerical error in listing Walker Wintoneak’s birth date last week, the Kindersley Klippers head coach pounced, taking advantage of a rarely used SJHL rule to claim his son’s Junior A rights for the Klippers.
The Bombers had recently acquired the 20-year-old winger’s rights from the Swan Valley Stampeders of the MJHL, hoping to lure the Saskatoon Blade to play his final junior season in his hometown. Walker grew up in Flin Flon while his father was coaching the Bombers.
When they added him to their list, however, they incorrectly recorded his birth date as February 8, 1989, rather than his actual birthday of July 25.
According to the SJHL rule book, that mistake allows any other team to claim the player if they can prove his correct birth date. Obviously, that wasn’t a difficult task for the player’s father.
The Bombers appealed Larry Wintoneak’s action, but the Klippers were found to be within their rights in a ruling delivered on Monday.The entire affair is likely moot, since Walker scored 31 goals and 59 points for the Blades last season and will want to stay with the club for his final season of junior eligibility rather than take a step down to the SJHL.
The Blades have four 20-year-olds in camp, one more than the limit, but if he does wind up the odd man out, it’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be a line-up of other WHL teams interested in his services.
“Walker’s focused on the Western Hockey League. We’d love to have him, obviously, but I’m not even worried about it,” said his father. “He’s a Western League player and I’m not even saying that as a father bragging about it. That’s what I think and what I’ve been told by other people.”
Still, the family connection was something the coach couldn’t pass up, and the winger would be a huge addition to the Klippers’ offence if he does happen to join the team at some point during the season.
“The way I look at it, it’s family. Blood’s thicker than water,” said Wintoneak. “Maybe it’s not the nicest thing to do, but when it comes to your son, opportunity knocked. A mistake was made. (Flin Flon general manager) Mike (Reagan) had the opportunity to list him properly and didn’t.”