At the most recent BCHL Annual General Meeting, the Board of Governors unanimously voted in favour of updating the names of several year-end awards, as well as adding a pair of new trophies. Today, the league unveiled the final new award.
The BCHL has added a year-end honour for the Most Valuable Player of the postseason, which will be called the Jeff Tambellini Trophy, named after the former Chilliwack Chiefs star, 12-year pro, and recent head coach and general manager of the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The winner of the award will be voted on by the league’s Competition Committee and will be handed out during the Fred Page Cup trophy presentation following the clinching game of the league finals.
“It’s a big honour,” said Tambellini. “I’m very humbled. There have been so many outstanding players and champions over numerous years in the BCHL, so to be named on that trophy is special to me. Having the ability to play in the playoffs and have a chance to win [the Fred Page Cup] with the Chilliwack Chiefs was a big honour. It’s something I don’t take for granted.”
Tambellini, a product of Port Moody, B.C., was a driving force behind the Chiefs 2002 championship team, posting nearly two points per game with 36 in 19 contests on 17 goals and 19 assists as Chilliwack beat the Vernon Vipers in six games for the league title. That year, he was the Coastal Conference winner of the Most Valuable Player award as well as a co-winner of the Brett Hull Trophy for BCHL leading scorer with 117 points in 54 games.
After his BCHL career, he played three years at the University of Michigan, piling up 129 points in 124 games. Following his freshman year, he was drafted 27th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and went on to play six years in the NHL with the Kings, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks.
Tambellini finished the last six years of his playing career in Europe, split between Switzerland and Sweden, save for one year back in North America in the AHL.
He returned to the BCHL in 2018-19 as the head coach and general manager of the Trail Smoke Eaters for two years before moving on to an NCAA recruiting position with the Tampa Bay Lightning where he won two Stanley Cups.