GRIZZLIES HOCKEY CLUB HANDS GM REINS TO BRAD KNIGHT
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - Submitted by Mario Annicchiarico / Times Colonist
The business of junior hockey has become much more than wins and losses on the ice.
It’s now about entertainment, game-night production, community relations and involvement, sponsorship, advertising, attracting scholarships for players and, obviously, getting fans into the seats.
So with those dynamics in mind, the Victoria Grizzlies announced the hiring Wednesday of Brad Knight as its new general manager, replacing Pete Zubersky who remains on as vice-president of the B.C. Hockey League club.
“To be honest with you, my biggest concern is to achieve an atmosphere that is fun to come to,” Knight said. “People are coming to the rink, they’re trying to leave work behind because it’s been a tough week.
“What we’re trying to do is we need to make it fun again, make it exciting for people to come to the rink. Not just make it about hockey, but the surroundings — whether it’s the food we offer or the service we give. It’s trying to make sure people leave knowing that the money they’ve committed and the money they saved and brought to the Grizzlies’ organization, through their ticket as a fan; that they got their money’s worth.”
Not an easy task to achieve, but a challenge the 42-year-old Manitoba native, who moved to the Island more than 30 years ago, looks forward to.
“It’s a competitive market for every dollar now,” said the former player with the Nanaimo Clippers, who also coached with the same organization as well as the Langley Thunder and Cowichan Valley Capitals. For the last two seasons he was GM and coach, and then strictly head coach, of the Nanaimo Buccaneers of the VIJHL.
“There are lots of clubs and sports teams. It’s one of those things where you don’t take anything for granted. You thank everybody for every dollar spent and you appreciate the people appreciating you, and if you do that, you’ll win in the end.”
Knight is also a well respected businessman who worked as vice-president at Bear Mountain (on the resort side) and also director of operations at Crown Isle Resort before joining an investment company in Parksville.
He’s always had a hand in hockey and has competed and coached against current Grizzlies’ head coach Craig Didmon, who is also expected back. Those negotiations are still underway.
This day was about Knight, who Grizzlies president John Wilson referred to as a successful businessman and respected leader in Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox, who is now focused 100 per cent on the Grizzlies organization.
“He understands the business behind the game and we feel he is the ideal fit for the Grizzlies organization and our future goals, which is to provide top quality hockey on the ice with a solid business, community background off the ice,” said Wilson, who thanked Zubersky for the job he’s done since taking over from Bill Bestwick, who was let go in December.
“I think he’s a quality man. As important as hockey is, he’s a business guy and that’s what we were looking for,” Zubersky said of his replacement. “If you don’t have the business side, you’re done.
“When I was looking for a guy, that was a huge priority — hockey and business. I think he can do a better job than me in the hockey and the business, and this is about getting the best people in place and I think we answered to that today.”