Jack Murray / Penticton Vees

Rodgers finds familiarity with the Vees

The BC Hockey League champion Penticton Vees have a new — yet familiar — voice in the broadcast booth this season, as Fraser Rodgers returned to the place he called home for six seasons.

Rodgers’ return to Penticton became possible when the Vees announced last June that Trevor Miller was stepping away from his role as director of broadcasting and communications. At that time, the Vees also said a replacement for the position would be announced the following week. 

While it caught the attention of some people, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that the Vees were able to quickly recruit a replacement rather than holding an open hiring process. After all — the organization that prides itself on setting the standard in the BCHL was fresh-off becoming the first league champion since the Prince George Spruce Kings hoisted the Fred Page Cup back in 2019.

As advertised, it took less than a week for Penticton to reveal Rodgers as Miller’s replacement on June 8 — marking a return to the Peach City after five seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars sandwiched in-between.

The Nanaimo, BC native was Penticton’s play-by-play voice from 2011 to 2017, calling all three BCHL championships and the Centennial Cup victory during the Vees dynasty. Rodgers also won the BCHL broadcaster of the year award in his last season in Penticton.

The Vees officially announced Rodgers as the team’s new vice president of business operations, as well as director of broadcasting, communications, and public relations. The business operations side is an addition to his role with the Cougars, where he served as the director of broadcasting, communications, and public relations for the WHL club.

In the Vees’ media release announcing the hire, team president, general manager, and head coach Fred Harbinson expressed his excitement to bring Rodgers back to Penticton.

“Vees Nation is very fortunate to have Fraser Rodgers return to our organization in a much-expanded role,” said Harbinson. “Fraser was front and centre for many of our great Vees moments in the past and will now be back on the mic for many more.” 

“In addition, Fraser has gained the experience necessary to offer him the opportunity to return and lead as our vice president of business operations,” Harbinson added.

Returning to a familiar place

Not only is this Rodgers’ second go-around with the Vees, but he and the organization also enjoyed great success during his first tour in Penticton. His six years in the Peach City included three BCHL championships and one national championship, as well as a broadcaster of the year award.

Rodgers’ familiarity with Penticton, the Vees, and BCHL played a major factor in his decision to return to the South Okanagan. “My wife and I said if we were to ever move from Prince George, Penticton would probably be one of only two places we would go, regardless if there was a hockey job or not.”

“I spent nearly seven years here, my wife is from Kelowna, and Penticton is a place we feel we can raise our family. “We have a three-year-old daughter and Penticton is a community we always felt was a good place to plant roots.

“We were excited to get here and reconnect with so many great people. The Vees and the community of Penticton mean a lot to me. I have so many fond memories there and as I said earlier, it’s a great place to raise a family. My family and I just felt like it’s a great fit for us.”

In addition to feeling at home with both the community and the organization, Vees management and ownership groups were reassuring factors for Rodgers to relocate his family back to the South Okanagan.

“On the hockey side, I have so much respect for Graham and Sue Fraser, and Fred Harbinson. The Frasers are not just great owners, but tremendous people. Fred’s track record of success is second to none and the culture he has built over the years is so impressive.”

A new role in the front office

In addition to the broadcasting and communications responsibilities that he is accustomed to, Rodgers also tackled a new role as vice president of business operations. “When the Vees reached out with this opportunity to lead on the business side and help continue to grow the brand, we had to jump at it.”

After five years touring WHL facilities, Rodgers is excited to bring some new ideas to the South Okanagan. “I want to build upon an already impressive foundation in Penticton. The Vees have one of the best game night experiences for fans (and) the South Okanagan Events Centre is a world-class facility — the fan entertainment is top-notch.”

“What I intend to bring is some ideas that can continue to enhance the off-ice product. There’s a great off-ice team in Penticton in place and I look forward to bringing some ideas with me that we can explore and try to implement.”

At the end of the day, Rodgers is not only excited to be back with an organization he is comfortable working with, but he also feels he and his family have returned to a place they can call home. 

“My family and I are very excited to return to Penticton and the South Okanagan. A lot of people reached out and said ‘Welcome home’ (back when I was hired), and it definitely feels like that. The Vees are one of the top programs in Canadian junior hockey and I (am excited) to be part of it again.”