Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Hurricanes Season: Post-Mortem

Another season has come and gone for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and for the coaches, players, fans, and employees of this hockey club the results again were nowhere close to what anyone had hoped.

The Hurricanes closed out the season with just 20 victories in 72 games. I will give the club some credit because at the Christmas break when the Hurricanes had just 6 or 7 wins, reaching 20 seemed like a shot in the dark at best, but sweeping changes at the trade deadline made the Hurricanes more competitive. That's a good thing. Hopefully that's a positive trend that'll continue into next season.

The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for the last six seasons and for a club that's been struggling financially it's not what anyone want to hear. Playoffs mean extra revenue, un-budgeted money as teams only budget for operations of the 72 game regular season. Any playoff money is a bonus. Those are funds the Hurricanes haven't seen since the 2008-09 season. It's been a long drought. Just how bad are the team's finances? I'm sure that question will be asked at the pubic information session slated for March 30th at the ENMAX Centre, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the money situation with this community-owned team is not good. It hasn't been for the last number of seasons and anyone who says things are just fine, as we've heard in the past is doing nothing more than blowing smoke. The only way the Hurricanes are going to turn around financially is to change the product on the ice. You can put as much entertainment in the building you want during games, but it's all about wins and losses. That is what drives the revenue.

There are plenty of questions that will be asked and people want answers. Will this team eventually be sold? Do the shareholders want that? Will this coaching staff and hockey management staff return? Can the Canes sign last year's top pick Jordy Bellerive? What are the finances? And the list goes on.  As I've said many times I want this club to succeed both on and off the ice like every other fan. I care. I always have. I keep my ears close to the ground when it comes to the Canes. Quite frankly I can't wait till a March blog post when we can talk about the Hurricanes first opponent in the playoffs. Honestly, I think that's still a couple of seasons away. There is certainly a foundation now in my opinion starting in goal with Skinner and Sittler and some young talent which has started to really emerge in the last half of the season. Big positives moving forward. Now it's a case of building on those positives, signing the players who've been drafted, and building a strong group for seasons to come.

There's no doubt with this season now over the talk about selling to a private entity will ramp up again. When WHL Commissioner Ron Robison and former President Brian McNaughton addressed Lethbridge City Council last spring the indication many people got was the Western Hockey League's rope was getting shorter and shorter when it comes to the Hurricanes. Even Robison told me late in 2014 (reported here on the blog) he was hoping the issue of selling the club would be dealt with sooner than the Annual General Meeting this coming fall. That of course remains to be seen, but if the Commissioner wasn't concerned about the situation in Lethbridge I don't think he would've said that at all.

It's not all doom and gloom, don't get me wrong. As mentioned the play of some players this season poses well for next season. Skinner, Watson, Wong, Burke, Folk, and Estephan are just a few examples of some of the positives going forward in 2015-16.  Then there's the WHL Bantam Draft in May, which the Hurricanes could have the first overall pick. We will find that out Wednesday (Mar. 25) when the WHL holds the annual Draft Lottery. It'll be a top two pick for sure. Then there is the CHL Import Draft in a few months. That's a draft, in my opinion the Hurricanes have messed up the last few years. The club had the third overall selection in last year's Import Draft and Nikita Milehkin didn't even last until Christmas time before he was sent home to Russia. These are critical picks. This year the Hurricanes will have the 5th overall selection in that draft. They will also have the 65th overall pick if they choose to use it. Players who can change an organization. The Hurricanes need to get the Import Draft right this time around.

So what does the future hold you ask? Well I wish I had the answer. I don't know if the Hurricanes have the answer either. I would think a lot of questions will be put forward at the Public Information Session and State of the Organization meeting March 30 at 7:00 pm. A lot of people have asked if private ownership is the answer. Can a private owner work? Who knows. What I do know though is the financial bleeding needs to stop and the club has to be more competitive. A total of 132 wins in the last six seasons over 432 games just isn't going to make the cut.



  1. Dustin Forbes interviewed Peter Anholt in his radio broadcast on Mar. 21.
    Peter said he would be looking for a new head scout and head coach.:)

  2. I have never been a fan of Dylan Purcell but was especially disappointed after reading his most recent article about the final game. To say that Wong didn't deserve MVP? Go ahead and think that Skinner should have gotten it but to write an article that takes jabs at a kid who has done his time and done nothing but work his butt off while maintaining a 4.0 in his college courses is just pathetic. Even went so far as to say "which indicates Wong’s goalscoring may not be crucial". How is that okay to say and why was it necessary??? Skinner will get his fair share of MVP awards so he will survive with the 2 awards that he received as a rookie this year. So disgusted by this article.

  3. Dylan Percell is right on with his views and comments! Wong wasn't the MVP nor is he actually the hardest working player or the fan favourite? Hardly...maybe in his mom's eyes though. Getting all the students at the school that you teach at to vote continuously on the Canes website doesn't count, its called cheating! All common knowledge to other players and billet parents, laughable! Lots of people in the stands last Friday that didn't agree and wonder about the lopsidedness with which he wins these awards the last couple of year's? Apparently doesn't garner a whole lot of respect from his team mates either? But, considering what all has taken place with this franchise in resent years, its not at all surprising! He is not and never will be a franchise player as long as his situation is being manipulated behind the seen. Hopefully Bellerive signs (not likely) so that we can see how a real superstar earns these awards! Wong is a nice kid but a superstar he is not and never will be...thats is the reality.


    1. LBJ ...... I hope you have real inside and totally accurate information before you besmirch and denigrate a TEENAGE Hockey player like that. From what I know, the team management makes the final decisions on the award winners.


  4. My pick for MVP was Skinner! Enough said on that!
    According to the article in the paper (by Dale Woodward) Anholt says that Maxwell and Craig will b
    e back as assistant coaches again, and Pat Siedlecki confirmed that piece of information. To me that is a sign of Anholt trying to create stability for his players. The same article quoted Anholt as having established a very good rapport with Bellerive and his family and the issue of him signing or not, has not been settled. I guess there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

    The "information meeting" on Monday should be interesting to say the least, or is it another stalling tactic to keep the shareholders on the sidelines. One thing is for sure, the President should come clean on all financial aspects of the club including" total amount lost; contracts still being paid out; to any use of the education funds (other than for the players education); and the truthful explanation of why season tickets have to be paid for by April 18 and why the designation of "special lower priced sections".


    1. Up until now unless they have changed the rules, all the information you requested above will be censured. BOD sign a confidentiality agreement and therefore do not speak of what a contract is, what has been paid out, who signed for what and any other financial information that may be relevant that applies to personnel. Second, shareholders (not general public) while attending the AGM are entitled to receive from the BOD a two or three page synopsis of the financial situation. This is accompanied by a presentation from the representative from the accounting firm hired to do the audit. Third, if you are a shareholder you can contact the Hurricane office and request to view the entire 30 page or so financial statements at the Hurricane office. You will be allowed to view them but you will not be allowed to take them in any form out the door and into the public realm. And last as a shareholder you are entitled to ask any question you want at a shareholders meeting where it can be decided by the chair of the meeting what information is given and what can not be given outside the confidentiality agreement. I doubt very much at a meeting advertised as "open to shareholders and the public" that you will get any of the answers that you are looking for. Look at it this way, if it is published in the paper you can probably get an answer. Note the info you are looking for is never released even at the AGM. Check past articles of coverage from the Herald and you can see what is allowed at an AGM. You may get an answer to your last question about season tickets and seating. Your second last implies that there may be some misuse of funds, so if you have specific information that could lead to a criminal investigation, present it. I highly doubt you will even get an answer. Contracts being paid out are confidential, contracts signed, ditto, total amount lost, maybe, as it appears in the paper after the AGM. For the 'President" to "come clean" also implies impropriety. I also highly doubt that the auditing firm would allow their own reputation and business model to be destroyed by your implied misappropriation of funds under any category. If you have information of such impropriety go to the police. Tired of all the BS from the concourse. Buy a share, get informed, get elected to the board. - A former BOD member.

  5. Hi Pat. The Canes could get bumped down to the third pick and are not guaranteed a top 2 pick.

  6. RJS, simply put, you have no idea what you are speaking! Your innuendo is so off-base. Spend 5 minutes trying to educate yourself and less time bashing everything Lethbridge Hurricane. I hope for the sake of guys like you this team is sold to a private guy and you never hear of any team specific detail ever again. When 2900 fans keep showing up the team will quickly be on the move and you can forever rid us of your dribble.

  7. I'm unclear where the 'jab' at Tyler Wong was. By all means, check the story again. Unless you actually believe saying that a player wasn't as valuable as the goalie who established himself as one of the top three 16-year-old players in the history of the league is a 'jab.' Please, hate all you want, but please actually read the story, each word.

    -- Dylan

    1. From your article in the Lethbridge Herald.

      "I mean, Tyler Wong got the team MVP award but let’s face it, the award should be the “Stuart Skinner MVP Award” because he wasn’t just the team’s best player, he was deific. Wong, the MVP, did what he was expected to do. He got suspended a bit, scored a lot and when Anholt said he was looking for a big, tough winger to play with Burke and Estephan, he found it in the listed-at-five-foot-nine-but-not-really Tyler Wong. Wong led the team with 27 goals and 29 assists. A 4-4-2 stretch by the team coincided with a goalless drought by the winger, which indicates Wong’s goalscoring may not be crucial. His play and his heart, however, are a necessary ingredient. •••"

      Hi Dylan. This is from someone who does not have a dog in this fight. I will attempt to be as diplomatic as possible in this, and remember, this is just my opinion. If one read the overall article quickly, it did feel like you were dissing on Wong. Your choice of words (yes I read every one of them) and phrasing, although not a direct jab at Tyler, did seem like you had a bone to pick with him.

      Let me do a Fox News job on your article. That is, to pick and choose just snippets without giving any context to them.

      #1 .. "I mean, Tyler Wong got the team MVP award but let’s face it, the award should be" ...... sounds like a total diss on Wong.
      #2 .. "Wong, the MVP, did what he was expected to do. He got suspended a bit, scored a lot" ...... not a blatant dig at Wong, but it surely comes across that way.
      #3 .. "Anholt said he was looking for a big, tough winger, he found it in the listed-at-five-foot-nine-but-not-really Tyler Wong" ..... Sounds to me like either sarcasm or a complete and total jab at Wong's size.
      #4 .. "Wong’s goal scoring may not be crucial"..... Again, seems like another negative view on Wong.

      You did pay Wong a compliment at the end of your statements about him. (His play and his heart, however, are a necessary ingredient). By then most readers had made up their mind that you were too hard on Tyler. You would have been far better served to make a positive statement about Wong at the start of your comments about him, but we know that is not your style. All it would take is for you to START with these words..... Dont get me wrong. Tyler Wong is a really good hockey player and a huge part of the Canes team, but he is not the MVP. After that you could have compared Wong to Stalin and no one would have a made a peep about it......lol.

      Yes, this are just a small portion of your article, but this is all a lot of the readers will remember. Those are your words after all and they do reflect your somewhat abrasive style. Not that there is anything wrong with your style. I find it quite entertaining myself.

      I have one question for you. Did you really mean Skinner is one of the top three 16 year old players in the History of the WHL?

      canesrock … and so does Tyler Wong…lol