Matt Bardsley has resigned from his position as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers.
"It's a decision we made as a family and, yeah, it hasn't been easy, but it's just one we felt was the right one for our family," Bardsley said.
Bardsley and his wife, Stacy, have two children — two-year-old Vince and five-year-old Brooke — and family in Oregon and California.
Stacy's parents have not seen their grandkids in nearly two years. Bardsley's parents have not seen the grandchildren in about a year and a half.
"It's impacted us," Bardsley said. "We're not sure when things are going to change, but we just felt it was the right decision to make for our family, for the kids, and if we were going to make it, it was right for the organization to do it now, rather than wait until August or September to see where things are at and change then."
Bardsley said he does not have a job lined up. He is not certain where his family will settle south of the border.
"That's the other challenge, is we're kind of going a bit blind on it," Bardsley said. "Most people, when you make a transition, you usually have something in place. We don't, but we just felt, 'Let's go ahead and make that decision and see where things are at.'"
Why now, with the pandemic's grip appearing to loosen and increasing vaccination numbers?
"Those are some things we did discuss, but we just felt it's important to know where we can be," Bardsley said. "In the states, it's a lot more mobile right now. If we are in Portland, Washington or California, we know we can still get to and from to see family, as opposed to waiting to see when things will be lifted."
Bardsley was named GM on June 1, 2018.
Over three seasons with the Blazers, the club posted a record of 87-54-9-3 and won two B.C. Division championships.
He was named Western Conference executive of the year for the 2019-2020 season.
The Blazers have potential to compete for a third consecutive division title next season and have built a team that has aspirations to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.
"It's really hard [to leave] if I'm being honest with you," Bardsley said. "Our goal was to be here for a long time. It's really difficult, but I do feel good knowing that it [the team] is in a really good spot."
Blazers' majority owner Tom Gaglardi and president Don Moores made a push to change Bardsley's mind.
"Absolutely we did," Moores said. "It meant a lot to him. It probably threw him off a bit, just in the sense he had made a decision, but when we said that, he thought about it a little bit further.
"We've always been quite close. I know he's been struggling for a while with COVID and the family situation. To actually hear he had come to the decision was certainly a big surprise and disappointing, for sure, but understandable."
Bardsley will remain in Kamloops until June 30 and is available to assist with hiring his replacement.
Moores said the organization is thrilled with director of player personnel Robbie Sandland and there are no plans to make changes to the scouting staff.
"With people like [director of hockey] Tim O'Donovan, Robbie Sandland and [head coach] Shaun Clouston, we feel we are pretty well-positioned to take our time and make sure we make the right decision," Moores said.