A new era has begun for West Kelowna hockey as faces were put to names in the team’s introduction of the new owners and the team’s new president.
Earlier this week, the Warriors announced that Boston-based business man John Murphy and West Kelowna local Rod Hume had purchased the team from the BC Hockey League. On Wednesday, the ownership team introduced another West Kelowna local, Chris Laurie, as the Warriors’ new president of both hockey and business operations.
Murphy said that the new management team is ready to bring the Warriors out of the proverbial gutters after a financially challenging and dramatic three years under the previous ownership.
“I think West Kelowna deserves and can support a junior hockey franchise,” he said.
“We want to grow a fanbase and we’re going to grow it everyday; we have a plan. We think strong ownership with professional management and a winning culture can bring a successful franchise here to West Kelowna.”
New and professional management comes in the form of Laurie, who served as the team’s marketing director from 2006 to 2008. Now, over 10 years later, Laurie returns with experience under his belt and ready to make the necessary hockey and business changes to bring back a hockey-loving and winning culture to the Warriors.
Laurie had a three-year run as the general manager with the North American Hockey League’s Armarillo Bulls where he won a league championship in his final year and is ready to reignite the passion for his hometown team.
“It starts in the community,” said Laurie.
“We’ll be looking to build and rebuild any relationships that maybe aren’t where they should be right now and really start with the grassroots.”
Laurie said there is plenty of work ahead where the Warriors will be looking to earn back the fanbase’s loyalty and patronage.
New @BCHLWarriors president Chris Laurie and owner John Murphy said they look forward to the clean slate after the new management changes coming to #WestKelowna's BCHL team. Read more @KelownaCapNews pic.twitter.com/NQa0MiLlCt
— Mack Britton (@MackBrittonBC) November 13, 2019
While changes are coming to the top, both Murray and Laurie said that though the Warriors are struggling for wins this season, there will be no changes to the team’s coaching staff and that there is 100 per cent faith in coach Brandon West.
“Brandon and his group of done a good job in keeping the guys competitive and keeping them focused,” said Laurie.
“We look at this as an opportunity for a clean slate for us and our group and we want to build on that.”
Murphy, who’s son played for the Warriors two seasons ago, said that they have complete confidence in West.
“He has our support,” said Murphy.
“He’s thinking every day how to make the team better, how to coach the team better. Brandon’s a professional coach and that’s what we want.”
The team’s last year under former owner Kim Dobranski was riddled with bad press, lawsuits and left a sour taste in many West Kelowna fans’ mouths which led to a steady drop in attendance.
Despite the past struggles, the team’s new management is ready for the opportunity to reinvest into the Warriors.
“We want to look forward, that’s our goal,” said Murphy
“We’re putting a team in place to do that and we don’t want to look backwards. This team has had a lot of peaks and valleys, but we want to reestablish a winning franchise and a franchise that connects with the community. We’re not going to talk much about the past.”
The Warriors will return to Royal LePage Place on Nov. 22 for their first home game since the end of October.
Laurie has promised new features for the Warriors home return, including a 2-for-1 drink happy hour, and invites the entire West Kelowna community to come experience the new look, new cultured Warriors.
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