Inglis asks Blazer fans to give him a chance
Charles Inglis is saying all the right things.
Whether his actions corroborate his words remains to be seen.
“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet,” Inglis said with a laugh.
“I heard that I stole a car one time. I heard that I stabbed somebody and I was in jail.
“If you really want to get to know Charles Inglis, come and have a conversation with me.”
That’s exactly what KTW did last week, just a few days after the Kamloops Blazers acquired the controversial forward from the Red Deer Rebels via trade.
Inglis left both the Saskatoon Blades and the Prince George Cougars on less-than-amicable terms, with many believing the now-20-year-old forward is disruptive in the dressing room.
When Rebels’ owner and general manger Brent Sutter fired Jesse Wallin and took over his post behind the Red Deer bench, he sent Inglis home to Saskatoon to await a trade.
So, Charles, which parts of your reputation do you deserve and which are unfair?
“In Saskatoon, I was a young guy and I made some mistakes. That was the only real place where I had some troubles.
“In PG, I’ve never had a coach like Dean [Clark] and never had a GM like Dallas [Thompson].”
“I found out that other teams wanted to trade for me last year. I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody. I told my stall buddy Brock Hirsch and somehow it leaked out to Dean.
“I got pulled out of every leadership meeting. I got the ‘A’ ripped off my jersey. From there, things just went sour.”
Inglis admitted to smoking a cigarette in front of the Cougars’ team bus.
“I knew that would get me traded without asking for a trade. I didn’t want to have that label.”
The drama did not stop there, Inglis said.
“I was treated unfairly. Even when they sent me home, I remember Dallas gave me my stuff in a garbage bag and he didn’t even give me all my stuff.
“He gave me my shoulder pads, but wouldn’t even give me my skates.
“He didn’t give me any money to go home. I remember he even said that he paid for my flight, but my grandma paid for that flight because he was going to put me on an 18-hour bus ride.”
Some believe Sutter sent Inglis packing because of his effect on dressing-room chemistry.
“For some reason, Brent Sutter thought that was the deal in Red Deer,” said Inglis, who has lived on his own since he was 17, working two jobs in the summer to pay the bills.
“There were three players that didn’t really seem to like me.
“When I talked to the rest of the team, they said, ‘We’re not on their page. We’re on your page, Charles. We’ll follow you into battle.’”
Inglis said he learned from his mistakes and focused on remaining disciplined on and off the ice in Red Deer.
Wallin went to bat for Inglis, telling Kamloops GM Craig Bonner the gritty forward would be a good fit in the Tournament Capital.
Blazer fans have every right to worry about the new addition’s reputation for being divisive in the room.
Kamloops (20-6-1-1) sits atop the WHL with 42 points and has earned its standing as a championship contender.
Inglis was brought in to improve that standing.
What he can contribute on the ice is not in question.
He has 92 goals and 173 points in 282 WHL regular-season games — and he won’t back down from a challenge.
“In Red Deer, I was told to tone things down,” Inglis said. “Some of the things I do is what makes guys feel bigger out there.
“I’ll do anything for any one of my teammates. Those are my brothers. If anybody wants to take liberties, I don’t care how big they are or how strong they are, I’ll fly in and let them know I’ve got their back.”
What Inglis does away from the rink will be under the microscope in the River City.
Given his reputation for enjoying the nightlife, staying away from Victoria Street when night falls might be a good idea.
Blazer standout Brendan Ranford was in need of someone to play with on the club’s second line. Bonner said that is a big reason why Inglis was acquired.
The 20-year-old duo has shown flashes of brilliance since being united on a line with 17-year-old Cole Ully, but has combined for just three points in three games, two of them losses.
It’s too early to cast judgment on the line. Their next chance to impress comes on Friday, Nov. 30, when the Tri-City Americans are in town.
Many Blazer fans have not yet made up their mind about the Inglis deal.
His message to the undecided was clear: Just give me a chance.
“I’ve had my fair share of off-ice stuff, but not once on any team that I’ve ever played for have I been noted for anything but being the most team guy in that dressing room,” Inglis said.
“It’s so exciting to be here. I’ll be honest with you . . . I hate losing so much. I hate losing more than I like winning.
“I know we do a lot of [winning] here. I just want to contribute.”