Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Hurricanes Post 395K Loss; McNaughton Not Re-elected

The Lethbridge Hurricanes held their 25th Annual General Meeting Wednesday night at the Holiday Inn Hotel and the meeting ended with a bit of a surprise.

Longtime Board President Brian McNaughton was not re-elected, effectively ending his tenure as a member of the Hurricanes Board of Directors. "Well, it's a little bit of a surprise, but that's the process. When you run for election, you hope to get elected, but sometimes you won't and that happened to me tonight. I've served 8 years on this board and I'm pretty happy with the way it's gone. I'm extremely excited with the direction this organization is going. I think the Hurricanes are in great shape for both the short and long terms. So I'm pretty darn happy with what's been accomplished over the past couple of years."

There were six people running for five board positions and McNaughton was the only one not elected. Vice-President Brian Wichers was re-elected along with new comers Adel Barrington, Brad Cook, Kelly Shigehiro, and Randy Jovenasso. The new board will now have to elect a new President at it's next meeting.

Before the Election of the Board, the hockey club's financial statements were given out. The Hurricanes lost a total of $395,616 during the 2010-2011 WHL season. McNaughton was confident the hockey club would make that back up. "Half of that nearly $400,000 is write-downs. We wrote down about $100,000 in the building (ENMAX Centre) which is being rebuilt, so really the net loss of the operations was actually $173,000 and making that up is going to be pretty routine. We knew we had a tough year so the Board decided to take the opportunity to write some things off and that's what we did. It was a good business decision." As for the 2011-2012 season starting this fall, the Hurricanes have actually budgeted for a surplus of roughly $40,000.

A number of reports were given out to the 85 shareholders that attended the AGM. One of those was from Business Manager Jim Bradley. He talked about the business side of things through a power point presentation and just what the organization has planned for the upcoming year and what's been doing over the past number of months. He also mentioned that it's time the Hurricanes stick to one logo or brand, so the team will permanently adopt the logo and jersey that was unveiled as a third jersey last season. "It's about commitment to the brand, whether that's the logo or the message. Lead brands in business today are consistent." Bradley also talked about some of the opportunities the club has to help grow revenue going into this season. "We have flexibility built into our ticket packages this year and the video board is the most exciting thing from a marketing standpoint and when it comes to experience as well. People are going to have a lot more fun at games because they will see things like replays and promotions." Bradley also gave an update on the state of Season Ticket sales. He says the club is closing in on the 2100 mark, which is an increase of about 16% from this time last year.

A number of other reports were given out as well, including one from Head Coach and GM Rich Preston. He talked about the team's last two drafts and the competition that will be coming up at training camp in a couple of weeks. In the Governor's Report, Herman Elfring stated that attendance across the WHL last season was up about 3.3% and that was lead by Portland which saw an increase of 26%. Elfring also announced that Lethbridge will likely be hosting a World Junior exhibition game on December 22nd at the ENMAX Centre when Russia plays the Czech Republic. Dick Gibson presented a report on Education. He stated that the Hurricanes were one of only two teams in the Western Hockey League to have all their players in some type of education program this past season. The Portland Winterhawks were the other.

Another interesting item that was discussed was a thing called the 50/50 Central Program. The Hurricanes purchased the system and the Hockey Hounds will operate it when they sell 50/50 tickets starting this season. When a 50/50 ticket is sold, it automatically gets added to a running total that'll be displayed on the video scoreclock so everyone in the building can see. This system is currently in use at the Saddledome in Calgary. The hockey club feels it can lease the system out to other events and users and expects this 50/50 system to add another revenue stream for the team.

Those are the highlights from the 2011 Hurricanes AGM.


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  1. Very happy bout the full time third jersey! I loved that one!

  2. That's for the report Pat. As a shareholder that can rarely attend the evening meetings, I have to use other sources to get my info.

    As for the meeting, THANK YOU MR. BRADLEY for saying something that should be common sense when referring to a team's logo!! I have wondered many times how much money the franchise has spent over the past years (after losing the Twister logo) on new uniforms and logos. I always found it curious that they felt a change in the uniform/logo was needed especially after the team's success in '07/'08. I thought the changes were absolutely ridiculous and showed a real lack of leadership by the Board. It spoke volumes about their inability to understand the economics of running a WHL franchise.

    As for the re-election of the Board of Directors. I don't know the background experience of any of the names mentioned as being "new comers". My only hope is that they have a hockey-business background because I feel this has been lacking with some members of the previous boards. I don't know the background experience of the previous Board members either. I am basing my judgement on the complete failures in the operations of the franchise (and the fiasco after the '07/'08 season with Mr. Stasiuk). That type of operations can not happen again, so I hope the "newcomers" have some experience to draw from.

    As for Mr. McNaughton's surprise not being re-elected......I think it was a good time to find a new President. Mr. McNaughton never proved to me he knew what he was doing in that capacity at ANY time. (However, neither has Mr. Wichers, so I'm not sure why he was re-elected and Mr. McNaughton wasn't???).

    Let's hope the franchise continues to move in the right direction of rebuilding the team. Mr. Preston will be in the spotlight for the next 2 years to see if he can lead these young players. I think we will know after this year if he is capable or not. If I'm not mistaken, his contract will be up after this year, so the Board will be have a good idea as well.

    And, for heaven's sake, pick a jersey/logo and stick with it and stop wasting money!!!

  3. There were 6 guys running for 5 spots. I believe there's a rotation so a portion of the seats are voted on every year.

    I would have rather seen Wichers lose out than McNaughton. Both however need to be less cocky and not have demanded every trade/deal first get their approval.

    McNaughton at least has a hockey background as he has scouted for many years in the WHL. I don't know much about Wichers hockey background (if there's any) but he has a strong business background here in town. Although, there's the old silver spoon comment that I could make about him...

  4. Running a "restaurant" is a far cry from running a WHL hockey franchise (Wichers). I know a few restaurants in Lethbridge who are not money-making operations and being propped up with money from other sources. There is 0 correlation between running a restaurant and a WHL franchise.

    I didn't realize the Board "demanded every trade get their approval". That isn't good business. In my experience, you hire a GM to run a franchise and trust in him.her to make the right decisions. If every trade has to run through the Board of Directors, the GM's job isn't given the freedom to make decisions and therefore, is a lame duck puppet.

    I personally don't think scouting in the Dub has a direct correlation to running a WHL franchise. This is based solely on the performance of the team since Mr. McNaughton has been President of the Board of Directors. If this was a privately run franchise, Mr. McNaughton and Mr. Wichers would've been out of a job many years ago. But since we have a community-owned team which seems to reward poor performances (see also Kamloops Blazers), they were/are continually voted back in.

    I like the idea that not every Board member can be voted out in the same year. It's good to have some stability/consistency moving from one year to the next as the previous members can help catch the new members up to speed on various policies and decisions. However, I think this practice is a recent one and wasn't in place when the Board of Directors was first formed. (Please correct me if I'm wrong). Hence, the Board saw very little turnover prior to this past vote.

    In any event, I'm willing to sit back and see how the team does this year with some of the new young players being given a chance. Being a Cane fan, I hope they do well and show themselves well as future WHLer's. I don't expect miracles, but I heard Mr. McNaughton utter the statement "we expect to make the playoffs", so I guess that's where the bar is being set.

  5. Just a point of clarification. The board does not "approve" of every trade. However, they are "informed" of any trade prior to it being announced in the media, basically so they are not caught off guard with the news.

    The practice of rotating the 3 year terms for 5 of the board members has been in place for about 6 years. Board members whose terms are up are asked by the nomination committee if they are running again, and those who chose to do so have their names on the ballots along with any others who seek election, including those nominated from the floor. If you have only 6 people running for 5 spots, the chances of getting re-elected are pretty good. With McNaughton and Wichers running to be re-elected, at least one of them would be. McNaughton was the candidate with a"target" on his back and did not get voted back in.

    Shareholders spoke. Board will have to continue on.

  6. Hi Pat. Do you know which 5 current board members did not run for re-election?

  7. Barry Knapp, Parrish Hanelt and Shaun Haney chose not to let their names stand for re-election. Only Wichers and McNaughton did. Four newcomers were elected and Wichers returned.

  8. Thanks for the clarification. Still doesn't explain what shareholders see in Wichers, but it helps me understand the process.

  9. Whether you like or approve of McNaughton, in the eyes of the other teams in the league and hockey in general, I think the Hurricanes have another black mark against their reputation with the Non-election of the President of 8 years.
    Read article submitted by "Stuck in the Penalty Box" in the WHL Fans site, on Aug. 20 at 3:48 who says it well.

  10. What "Fans site" are you talking about?? Just type it....

  11. Ok, I found the blog you're referring to.

    However, I don't know if I quite agree with the post. It states that MacNaugton has earned respect within WHL hockey circles. I'm not sure how he has done that. He has been the captain of a rudderless ship. The Stasiuk/Dyck fiasco is just one example of how he allowed the Cane's organization to drop from WHL Finalists to out of the playoffs for 3 years. I could site more examples, but I'll spare the readers as they are well documented. The fact that Michael Dyck wasn't afforded the same opportunity as Rich Preston (who didn't have any GM experience prior to coming to Lethbridge) is beyond me because he obviously was a great coach.

    I'm unsure HOW MacNaughton earned respect in WHL circles???

  12. The five elected each year is the result of a McNaughton initiative and an appendix to the original articles of the team. I'm not quite so sure that the Stasiuk/Dyck fiasco, although certain parts may be valid, was not a frenzied creation by the media and a small group of dissenters. Were there problems, yes, does it mean that the problems exist today, probably not. There is business involved here and apparently the board carried out that business much to the chagrin of many.