For the Reporter
Bil La Forge has been named the new general manager of the Seattle Thunderbirds, club owners Dan and Lindsey Leckelt announced Wednesday.
La Forge succeeds Russ Farwell, who has been the team’s general manager for the last 23 seasons, guiding the T-Birds to the WHL championship in 2017. Farwell will transition to the role of vice president of hockey operations with the T-Birds.
“Bil is a proven evaluator of talent and has been working hard for this opportunity to be a general manager in the WHL,” Farwell said. “The Leckelts have made a great choice as the team transitions to new leadership. I look forward to working with Bil as the Thunderbirds build for a run towards another championship.”
La Forge has been the director of player personnel for the Everett Silvertips for the past four seasons. He joined the Silvertips as a scout in 2008 and was named head scout prior to the 2011-12 season.
“We highly value the leadership team of the Seattle Thunderbirds, and the addition of Bil La Forge as general manager is a key part of our goal to build the best hockey development program in the world,” Dan Leckelt said. “Bil has a gift for identifying hockey talent, and he believes in the same values of hard work and commitment that have made the Thunderbirds franchise a success over the years.”
Prior to joining the Silvertips La Forge was with the Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL and the Manitoba Moose in the AHL.
“This has been a lifelong dream for me,” La Forge said. “I was fortunate to grow up around hockey and I couldn’t be more excited to join a great franchise like Seattle. This is really exciting for me to join Russ, Dan and Lindsey and help in any way I can.”
“I want to thank the Everett Silvertips for all the opportunities they gave me to grow in the hockey community. Without the support of Garry Davidson, Zoran Rajcic, Scott Scoville, Doug Soetaert and Bill Yuill, I would not have had the opportunity to become a WHL general manager.”
While with the Silvertips, La Forge was also the director of the Mount Carmel Hockey Academy in Edmonton. He has an extensive coaching resumé in minor hockey, winning multiple championships at the bantam level while building a 12-year junior high school teaching career. In his playing days, La Forge skated in the Ontario Hockey League and Alberta Junior Hockey League before competing collegiately at Augustana University College.
Farwell was named the general manager prior to the 1988-89 season. After two seasons with the T-Birds he joined the Philadelphia Flyers as general manager. He spent four seasons in Philadelphia before returning to the T-Birds prior to the 1995-96 season. Farwell put together the ownership group that purchased the T-Birds in the summer of 2002. This ownership group sold the team to the Leckelt brothers in the summer of 2017.