Wednesday, 24 September 2014 14:30

Broncos ‘premier’ status a journey, not a destination

Written by  Brad Brown, A Bard’s Eye View
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Swift Current Broncos forward Colby Cave (#10) and Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Justin Paulic sprawl on the ice after a close encounter in front of the Warriors net late in the third period of the Sept. 19 game. Swift Current Broncos forward Colby Cave (#10) and Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Justin Paulic sprawl on the ice after a close encounter in front of the Warriors net late in the third period of the Sept. 19 game.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the Swift Current Broncos set out to become a sustainable, premier franchise in the Western Hockey League with the unveiling of their new strategic framework.


The original 15 targets within are now down to 10 but, if they do it right, board chairman Liam Choo-Foo says they’ll never actually cross the finish line.
“Any good vision is something that you probably never fully attain,” Choo-Foo said ahead of the Broncos’ Sept. 18 annual general meeting. “So, for us, being a premier franchise is sort of that beacon out in the distance that we’re always working toward.”
The biggest step yet in that direction was announced at the AGM in the form of a $197,000-and-change profit from the 2013-14 season.
They’ve taken others along the way, though.
A new video score clock in 2012. The end of a four-year drought without a home playoff game. A league-leading number of players selected in the NHL draft over the past four years. And so on.
Those are some of the ones that are easy to grasp.
The root of it all, says Choo-Foo, is probably far less visible to the naked eye.
“What’s encouraging for me is the mantra that has permeated throughout our organization,” he said. “We’ve gotten to a place now where our culture and attitude has changed and has become a guide for how we behave, and a lot around our decision-making as well.
“In the board’s view, we realize now that we need to invest toward our vision rather than just making sure we’re around from year to year. We realize we need to make these investments, whether they’re in players, in staff or in our business infrastructure and that’s where the strategic framework comes in.
“So while it definitely has some very specific goals, targets and actions in terms of hockey operations, business operations and franchise enhancement, probably the longer-lasting value is the attitudal and cultural shift we’ve experienced.”
Having a coach and general manager who wants to see the vision through has helped too.
As Mark Lamb prepared to enter his sixth season with the Broncos this summer, the board offered and Lamb accepted a new contract that runs through the end of the 2016-17 season.
“If you look a little more closely you’ll see that our mission is to be a sustainable organization over the long term, and if you want to be sustainable that ultimately speaks to stability,” said Choo-Foo.
“With Mark we’ve got great leadership. He has a vision and he’s disciplined enough to stay with it. He doesn’t get tempted by that quick fix or that flash in the pan that might help us short-term but is going to hurt us in the long term. He’s been really committed to the team’s long-term growth and we’re just so happy to have him around for the next three years.”
The next step, on the ice at least, is to win a playoff series, something that’s eluded the Broncos for six seasons and counting.
“I think something that’s maybe been overlooked is how well we’ve restocked the team … to the point where now our prospects are highly sought-after prospects, and we’re in a position where the younger guys are pushing the older guys out of the lineup, so we’re really looking forward to the upcoming year,” said Choo-Foo.

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