Tim Bozon is coming back to Cranbrook.
The Montreal Canadiens assigned the 20-year-old import forward to the Kootenay Ice Friday morning. He will not be in the lineup tonight when the Kootenay Ice face the Swift Current Broncos at the Credit Union i-plex.
“Tim Bozon has come a long way. He fought a life-threatening disease with courage and determination and we are pleased with what he accomplished in the last few months,” said Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin in a team press release. “He was able to take part in the rookie camp, the Canadiens’ official camp and the Hamilton Bulldogs training camp. However, with his progression having been diminished due to illness, we feel that one of the priorities for his long term development is for him to fully regain his physical strength. We believe that joining the Kootenay Ice in the WHL is the right decision at this time as it will allow Tim to fully recover.”
Bozon fought neisseria meningitidis — a bacterial disease that attacks the lining of the brain, spinal cord and blood stream — late in the 2013-14 WHL regular season. He spent nearly a month in Saskatoon at Royal University Hospital after being admitted March 1, 2014.
“First and foremost, if Tim Bozon doesn’t get sick last March, he’s not in this situation. It’s a credit to his character that he’s even playing hockey, especially at this high level,” said Kootenay Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth Friday morning. “We want to get him back to playing at a level where he can succeed at the next level of hockey. It’s going to take some time, but it’s definitely an added bonus to add a top-six forward, a quality player. Before he got sick, [Tim was] one of the premier goal-scorers in the Western Hockey League.”
Bozon registered 30 goals and 62 points in 50 games with the Kootenay Ice during the 2013-14 WHL season after being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers in a blockbuster deal Oct. 22, 2013.
The winger will fill Kootenay’s final overage and import slots.
The Ice have had an overage opening since the conclusion of training camp, with forwards Levi Cable and Austin Vetterl the only overagers on the roster to this point. WHL clubs are permitted to retain three overage players.
“Tim’s no different from any 20-year-old. Any 20-year-old we carry we expect a lot from them both on and off the ice,” Chynoweth added. “You’re passing on knowledge to the younger players, who are 16 or 17, as to what it takes to be successful in the Western Hockey League, [how to] understand the wear and tear of the 72-game schedule, the practices, the travel, all the things that go into when you play in the Western Hockey League.
“We will be expecting Tim to not only produce on the ice, but be a leader off the ice as well.”
The team opened up an import slot with the release of forward Alex Chirva Sept. 30. Defenceman Rinat Valiev, a 2014 third-round pick of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, was the only import on the roster following Chirva’s release. WHL clubs are permitted to retain two import players.
The Ice sent forward Collin Shirley, defenceman Matt Thomas, a third-round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, a first-round pick in the 2015 Bantam Draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft to the Blazers in exchange for Bozon, and defenceman Landon Cross.
Bozon has scored 105 goals and 231 points in 205 WHL games.
His career season came during the 2012-13 campaign with the Blazers when he scored 36 goals and 55 assists.