May 28th, 2024

Hurricanes finish in the black

By Dale Woodard on September 28, 2021.

In a time of pandemic, the Lethbridge Hurricanes still managed to turn a profit.

The Hurricanes held their 36th Annual General Meeting for its shareholders Monday night at the Enmax Centre.

After the COVID-19 pandemic held Western Hockey League teams to 24 games within their own division with no fans in the stands, the club announced at Monday’s meeting they had nonetheless turned a profit of $72,250 for the past year.

A huge assist came in the form of $668,000 in government grant funding, but Hurricanes general manager of business operations Terry Huisman noted a few other factors as well.

“Obviously it was awful in the last year when you look at everything that was going on and how we ended up,” he said. “There were just as many things that came in line for us. Our investment did well and we did that Jackpots For Junior Hockey and that helped us out. And, of course, the big one was with the government stepping up and helping us out, that’s what took us over the top. It was fantastic.

“There was a lot of work done on the inside and a lot of lobbying within our league to stakeholders within our government. I think they understand over the course of time the importance obviously of not only the Western Hockey League, but junior hockey altogether in Alberta. I think that helped tremendously in securing those types of funds.”

Huisman said it cost the team $850,000 to put on a season last year.

“Had we not gotten that money we would have been probably right back to where we were when I started six years ago and we all know that wasn’t fun. So for me, I sit here and I’m happy about it, but there is a tremendous amount of work that went in behind the scenes. Not only just to secure that money, but also to make sure we ran as lean as possible and we capitalized on every opportunity to increase revenue.”

Hurricanes president Doug Paisley credited Huisman and his staff for their work in trying times.

“They didn’t sit back, they pushed and worked hard and kept the communication lines open,” he said. “All those types of things are operational. So we sit back in amazement and awe like the shareholders do because that’s what he’s hired to do. For them to put up those numbers, did they apply for everything that was available? Of course they did, every business did. They run it like a business and they look after it and I think we have lots to be proud of and we’re in good hands because they run it the way it should be run.”

Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt noted the government assistance was key, but like Paisley, tipped his hat to Huisman and his sales staff.

“All the credit goes to them on how we kept forging on and keeping all of our staff employed was a really big part of this.”

With fans allowed back into the Enmax Centre with proof of vaccination or a negative test as part of the Restrictions Exemption Program, the Hurricanes have budgeted for $1.7 million in ticket revenue.

“We knew what our season number was prior to doing our budget because we waited to see what it looked like going forward,” said Huisman.

“It all depends on how we do in the walkup. Everything is going to get affected. Our group tickets are going to get cut back because we can’t have youth groups within the building around the players and a lot of our groups are focused around that sort of thing. So with a little luck, we hope people want to get out of their house, come to a game and trust we’ve implemented the right stuff to keep them safe and secure. To me, that is going to be the important part of it.”

The other side of the equation, said Huisman, is advertising.

“A lot of companies struggled in the past two years and it’s going to take some time to get back on their feet, too. Just the support we’re already received last year as well as this year has been incredible and I’m very thankful to the community for it.”

Hurricanes season tickets are currently around the 2,000 mark, said Huisman.

“We renewed at about 85 per cent. We’re seeing some fluctuations now and there are some people who opted in that don’t necessarily feel safe coming into the arena still even with the recommendations that have been put in place. But there are two sides to that battle.”

“We’re just trying to operate the best we can to operate a profitable business and move forward and ensure we don’t lose too much money.”

With the Hurricanes WHL regular season opener fast approaching on Friday as they host the Calgary Hitmen at the Enmax Centre, Paisley looked ahead to the 2021-22 season.

“From the board’s perspective we expect Peter to put a competitive team on the ice and we like all the work that gone into it,” he said. “The last two years have been so challenging, so we’re excited to see people back in here. That’s good for the bottom line. I think we’re still a little bit apprehensive (but) we’re excited and time will tell. We’ll watch as things develop and try not to speculate too much.”

On the hockey front, the Hurricanes made a pair of roster moves Monday.

The team assigned goaltender Harrison Meneghin, to the Delta Hockey Academy U18 Prep team

Defenceman Noah Chadwick, has also been reassigned as he heads to the Saskatoon Contacts.

The Hurricanes recently signed Meneghin, 17, to a WHL Standard Player Agreement last week.

“We’re really pleased. We like this goaltender. He’s going to be a future Hurricane, for sure,” said Anholt.

The Hurricanes selected Chadwick in the second round and 38th overall in the 2020 bantam draft.

“Chadwick is just one of those kids who is such a pro,” said Anholt. “He handled it like a pro, getting sent back. He has the potential to be a captain here one day.”

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Was there an election for the board of directors. If so, who is who.