The Prince Albert Raiders revealed it was a difficult year both on and off the ice this past season at the team’s Annual General Meeting last night.
Citing a drop in ticket sales, liquor sales, promotions and fundraising revenues, and league revenue sharing, the team reported a loss of approximately $250,000 for the 2016-17 season.
“We’re disappointed when we have to acknowledge that we had to take a loss for the season,” President and Governor Gord Broda said. “There are a couple of key items that I did point out today and hopefully we’ve taken some measures to overcome them for the next season.”
Although Broda acknowledged the loss was significant, he said if you look back over the last five to eight years, the team has ultimately remained at the break even point with some years showing a loss and other years showing a gain. More specifically, the team showed a net gain of nearly $250,000 in 2015-16, making the last two years a virtual wash.
Considering the Raiders were at the bottom of the East Division and operate in one of the WHL’s smallest markets, the financial losses fall well within the norm when compared to the rest of the league.
In a February article, TSN’s Rick Westhead published financial documents filed to a Calgary court in relation to the ongoing WHL class action lawsuit regarding player wages. The documents show that in the 2015-16 season, 11 of 21 WHL teams who provided their financials reported an operating loss. The losses ranged from -$1,245 to -$1,545,206. The remaining 10 teams (including the Raiders) showed a profit, ranging from $144,644 to $1,400,000.
Although revenues were down in many areas last year, the Raiders showed a significant jump in a couple areas including merchandise, which gained $25,000 in revenues after showing a loss in 2015-16. Team expenses were cut by approximately $125,000 in an effort to streamline operations and make the budget more attainable moving forward. Additionally, well over $150,000 of the team's revenues in 2015-16 were earned during playoffs, which the team missed out on in 2016-17.
All 13 board members will be back for this season after Gord Broda, Dale McFee, and Brad Toporowski let their names stand for re-election and no nominations were presented from the floor.
In his presentation to those in attendance, General Manager Curtis Hunt said he was thankful for the understanding that last season was not a step back, but a step toward the future. After a disappointing start to the year that included unexpectedly losing star forward Reid Gardiner to the American Hockey League, the team pivoted by November to building towards the upcoming season and creating a consistent contender. He stated the team's depth within the lineup, prospect system, and upcoming draft picks is better than ever.
Hunt shared several highlights from this past offseason, including Ian Scott's draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs and selection to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Goaltending Camp, Brayden Pachal and Parker Kelly’s attendance at Ottawa Senators development camp, two coaches attending NHL development camps as guest coaches, skills coach Mark Odnokon’s acceptance into the Hockey Canada Skills Academy, the Raiders signing their top three 2017 draft picks, and seven of nine draft picks from this year being short listed for their provincial U16 teams.
Aside from losing assistant coach Brandin Cote to Red Deer College for family reasons, the Raiders will keep all hockey operations and front office staff in place for this season, with the addition of Mark Maloney as Senior Advisor of Player Development and Analytics.
On Twitter: @nedderrovert
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