Tuesday November 25, 2014

Pritchard chasing his hockey dream

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Gord Pritchard, left, at the Royal Bank Cup in Vernon, has taken a position with the WHL Regina Pats.

A member of the Yorkton Terriers Royal Bank Cup winning staff has moved on.

Gord Pritchard, a volunteer assistant with the team, is now a full-time staff member of the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, taking on the role of Director of Corporate Affairs.

So what does Director of Corporate Affairs entail?

“It involved a few things on the business side,” offered Pritchard in a recent interview with Yorkton This Week.

The position includes being a liaison between the Pats and the management at the Brandt Centre where they play.

“It’s dealing with them on a day-to-day basis making sure our needs are taken care of,” he said.

Pritchard will also liaise with the Pats’ billet coordinator, and their education coordinator. He added “a lot of our players are still in school,” and maintaining good grades is important.

Pritchard said he himself played and went to school so he can “relate to the challenges of balancing athletics and education.”

Pritchard said another project awaiting his attention is “to build the alumni base, and get them more involved.” He said with many former Pats still in Regina, there should be a base to build.

Beyond the defined requirements of the position, Pritchard said he will also be something of a trouble shooter on the business side of the Pats dealing with “anything that comes up on game days.”

Pritchard is not the only new face around the Pats this summer. The team has new ownership, and John Paddock was recently hired as the team’s latest head coach.

With a number of new faces coming together on the management side, Pritchard said there will be an adjustment period.

“I think it could pose some challenges at times getting everybody on the same page,” he said, but added having new ideas is never bad, especially for a team rebuilding.

Pritchard said the team made strides last year turning in a solid regular season, but a first round playoff sweep to Brandon dampened the progress made.

“Obviously our goal is to be back in the playoffs,” he said.

As for leaving Yorkton, and the Terriers, it was a big decision for Pritchard, one which included leaving the security of a full-time, non-hockey job behind.

“On the one hand it was easy,” he said. “… I loved being around the Terriers and going to the rink everyday was awesome.”

Pritchard said working with Terrier coaches Trent Cassan and Casey O’Brien and manager Don Chesney was a great experience, and he learned a lot over the three years he was with the organization.

“I have to thank Don and Trent for taking a chance on me,” he said.

Then there was the other side of the decision.

“But it was hard too,” said Pritchard, especially leaving his position at Rusnak Balacko Kachur Rusnak.

“They treated me like gold. They gave me the opportunity to work with the Terriers and practice law,” he said, adding while he won’t be actively practicing law in Regina, he plans to maintain his license as he pursues his hockey dream.

Pritchard said he appreciates “the sports world can be an unstable job for sure,” but added “it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

The reason Pritchard could not pass up the move was simple, it is a step toward his dream.

“My ultimate job when I was a kid growing up was to play in the NHL … But I wasn’t good enough to ‘get there,” he said, so the dream took a related course. “… I’d like to be the GM (general manager), on an NHL team …

“It’s a step in the right direction of being able to pursue my ultimate goal.”

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