Open Letter to the WHL

An Open Letter to the WHL and it's teams.

Dear WHL and it's teams,

I wanted to take some time to write to you today to discuss some of the things I have been thinking about during this season. I am sure most will be taken with a grain of salt and I really don't want to rock the boat too much but I thought I would finish the season off with my Top 5 ideas/thoughts/concerns. I also should mention that I know these things cost money and it doesn't grow on trees but I think there are sponsorship opportunities out there.

5. Include the US teams in EVERYTHING. 

Yes this means everything, whether that means voting for hardest working player, hosting CHL Top Prospects games, TV time, etc... They are a valueable market for our league and we should include them as they are teams in this league. If you want to grow the game Washington and Oregon state MUST be included in everything.

4. Improve the WHL Live structure.

While I love the idea of being able to watch my team (or any team) play on television, I often find myself frustrated at 1) the quality of the video feed 2) the sound quality of the video feed 3) the cost. There is no excuse for the video to not be in HD in 2016. There are sponsorships available I am sure, and in the cases where the city owns the arena there are partnerships to be had to give EVERY arena in the league HD quality. Also every team could have the score/shots/time clock on their broadcast. Furthermore, ensure that the radio people who do the broadcast are properly subsidized for the extra form of media they are providing a service for. Having better "tv" broadcasts will create an opportunity for commercials and more sponsorships. 

3. Officiating

I have been hard on the refs and officiating at the games this season (and seasons past) but this season seemed to be the worst yet. I personally think it is time to conduct regular training of the officials and at worst have 1 official on every crew that is doing this as a full time career. I know that it will be expensive, but the players, coaches and fans are being "ripped off". It is going to begin to create some injuries when players are not able to play an entire game without seeing that the refs involve themselves in games. This will also allow the refs the ability to continue having training throughout the season and give them the opportunity to move on to semi-pro and pro leagues.

2. Working Together

I fully understand that the WHL and its teams run a business. Decisions must be made so that every team generates profit. Why not work more closely when it comes to marketing your product? I have had a handful of ideas to generate some excitement among the teams, especially within your own division. Why not organize fan buses between the teams? Offer some incentives to get on the buses? I would like to spend a weekend in say Prince George but it is expensive. There are some opportunities for the teams to make a little bit of money, put the butts in the seats and create long lasting partnerships and friendships within the league. I have had the most fun being on the road and meeting good people in other communities, why not embrace the idea that this league is a close knit community of like minded people. 

Also why not share game day promotions that work? Why not annouce ahead of time what player is signing autographs on a given night? Plan the star players signing autographs on nights that might not draw as many fans? I just think there is a much greater opportunity when teams work together to raise the bar in each others community, there should be much more partnership in these areas.

1. Head Shots / Head Hits

While I am not interested in eliminating hits from the game, it is time to teach all the kids what a head hit is and what is not. It is also time to really review these hits and suspend players long enough to actually make it a deterrent. Is that 10 games? 15? 20? I am not sure but these types of hits NEED to go. 

It would be nice to see some of these things happen in this wonderful league of ours. I can tell you in the 5 years I have been following the WHL I have learned a lot. There are so many wonderful reasons to enjoy this brand of hockey, I hope we can improve it and improve attendance at the arenas league wide. The players sure appreciate a loud and full barn. Send me your thoughts and comments or hit me up on Twitter @rdfigs19







To be or not to be, that is the question

More on the title of this blog later. For now I will turn my attention to the season that was for myself and family, the Red Deer Rebels and the website. I apologize for its lengthiness.

It was going to be a season to remember for the Red Deer Rebels, win or lose. The Memorial Cup was to be played out in Red Deer, Alberta. The first time the National Junior Hockey Championship was going to be contested in Alberta in 42 years. I expected that the city would embrace it and I was not disappointed. What an amazing 10 days it has been, the crowning of the champion of course to be completed tomorrow. The volunteer experience was amazing for me, although next time I would like to have a bigger role and take some time off from my full time job to give the volunteers my all. Thank you Mr. Sutter for bringing the Memorial Cup to Red Deer and also taking a moment to say hello to me during the volunteer rally earlier this month.

Being able to be a part of the crowd during the Memorial Cup was also an amazing experience. It was loud, and interactive and the conversation and meeting new people from across our great land was thrilling. Thank you to everyone who took a moment to shake my hand and be a part of Red Deer's Memorial Cup. Meeting some of the members of the assembled media was also very exciting for me as I have always enjoyed reading about hockey and without you I would not have been able to fulfill my passion.

While the result wasn't necessarily what we wanted, I would still consider this season a success. Losing to the eventual WHL Champion, Brandon Wheat Kings was a little bit disappointing but they deserved to move on to the Final. Going 2-2 in the Memorial Cup was fitting for the hosts as they were able to beat the QMJHL champion and the Wheaties in the round robin. A very good game from the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and their Goalie, was the difference in being in the Memorial Cup final. Congratulations on a great season Red Deer. I look forward to next year.

All of this week has been emotional, as my girlfriend experienced the loss of her father. I am at a loss for words when it comes to the outpouring of support for our family this week, highlighted by the Memorial Cup Volunteer Committee, the guys at 106.7 the drive here in Red Deer, Gregg Drinnan and Jeff Marek at Sportsnet. To each and every person that sent us a message, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

I'd like to give thanks to everyone involved in the WHL Power Rankings. It was a lot of fun compiling the votes and writing some of the information for the teams, I appreciate the time you took to take part and look forward to doing it all again next season.

Now onto the website. I have so much to say but I think I can sum it up by saying WOW. What a ride. It has been incredible. Every day it has grown, it has been thrilling to bring the stats to you, the fans, the media and the teams. Almost everyday for the last 5 months I have recieved thanks, gratitude and kudos from all of you. For this I am very grateful and it fuels what I do each and every day. 

Thank you to Jesse Phillips for working so hard to bring my ideas to fruition. Working for nothing can't be easy for you and I am sure you want to punch me through the screen from time to time but without you this venture would still be a spreadsheet and night after night of data entry for HOURS. Thank you so much for everything you do. Stay awesome and I look forward to July in Kamloops and the exciting things coming for your family.

Gregg Drinnan. Words aren't enough for what you have done for WHLStats. From the Power Rankings links in your blogs to calling WHLStats the second best story of the WHL season, it has been amazing to receieve all the kindness and generosity from you. Your advice and mentorship has been nothing short of wonderful and I couldn't go without making sure everyone knew how much I appreciated everything. Thank you so much. Lastly congratualtions again on winning the Carson Award for the 2nd year in a row, Taking Note is easily the best blog I read.

Dylan Purcell, thank you for your continued encouragement and wisdom. You have been a tremendous supporter of the website and what we are trying to do. I appreciate every conversation we have. 

Hey Joe Whitbread, yeah I am talking to you. Thank you for everything this season. You are so supportive and encouraging and just positive. You've been helpful in every way I can think of and then some with everything I have been trying to accomplish. Thanks for the conversations throughout the year and allowing me a place to vent or bounce things off of. Also Jo, you've really set things in motion in my mind and will help get things rolling as we attempt to embark on another season.

This blog is getting lengthy and I would like to personally thank each and every person who has had an impact on myself, my family and this website. Without you none of this would have been possible.

As for the blog title, here's where it gets interesting. What's next for us? There are so many unanswered questions. Do we expand? Do we keep it the same? Do we shut it down? Are either of us going to be able to carry on what we have started? This website takes an extreme amount of effort, time and some funding.

The current plan is to expand on what we are doing but we need help. This is where you come in. Please send us your suggestions, your ideas, your hints and tips. Send us your questions and your answers. I'd really like to see some input from as many people as possible. My email is my twitter handle is @rdfigs19 Please let us know what you would like to see from us during the off season so that we can better serve all of you.

Once again THANK YOU.