The Grande Prairie Storm achieved their goal of making the playoffs, but there’s still lots of work to be done to become a top tier team again. President Murray Toews says they’re still dealing with financial challenges.
“With the economy being the way it’s been the last three of four years, we’ve been fortunate enough that people have stayed behind and the fans have stayed. We’ve just got to continue to clear the balance sheet up and keep it in a position where we’re getting new money for the new team.”
While some teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League can work with budgets of $600,000, Toews says they need $850,000 to a million due to travel costs. The board has brought in new members over the past year, and they’re now working on fresh fundraising ideas. Toews says he looks to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an example of what they want to do.
“A year ago they were dead last with us or one point off, and in one spring and summer they’re back to first place. They’re doing well this year, so the Junior A league is like that if you go out and make some good decisions. We’re hoping for the same type of turn around here.”
Much of that starts with cementing their head coach and GM, which is expected to happen this week. Matt Keillor was brought in mid-season, and helped the team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Toews says they’re happy with his performance.
“Matt is definitely the leading candidate. We believe right now that Matt deserves the chance to be a head coach and general manager, so we’ve just got to get the resources and the group around Matt to have some success.”
That includes Mark Bomersback, who was brought in this season as a head scout and associate general manager. He’s expected to play a bigger role moving forward.