Drews Diatribe

 Morrissey Sent Back - The Right Move

     - Drew Wilson, October 6th 2014

The Winnipeg Jets did the responsible thing by sending Raider captain Josh Morrissey back to Prince Albert. There were valid arguments for both keeping the Calgary Kid in the NHL and sending him back to Junior.

Morrissey posted 72 points in 59 games last season including a franchise record 28 goals. He also put up 2 goals and 7 assists in the 20 game AHL playoff run to the league final by the St John’s Ice Dogs. Throw in his experience playing for Canada at the World Junior championships and you could justify keeping Morrissey in the show considering he is sporting a bigger and stronger body to go along with a ton of skill.

However instead of spot duty and some nights in the NHL press boxes, the Jets have opted for the chance to have Morrissey continue to develop through about 30 minutes of ice time a game in all situations. Morrissey said upon arriving back in PA he will continue to work on the attributes that made him the 13th overall pick by the Jets in the 2013 NHL draft, namely a fleet of foot and fast puck moving game while quarterbacking the power play and anchoring the penalty kill.

 Morrissey is disappointed, who wouldn’t be. Playing in the NHL is his dream and let’s not forget the $925,000 rookie salary as opposed to the WHL stipend. But money is not the issue. The Raider captain is his own worst critic and focused on improving every day knowing that is the fastest route back to the NHL. Morrissey is excited to see his Raider team mates and knows it won’t be long until he gets another chance to wear the Team Canada Jersey at the World Junior championships in Toronto and Montreal.

Josh also learned last season that a return back from the NHL doesn’t mean automatic domination of the game at the junior level. It may be a far cry from the NHL but play at the dub level is still very high and Josh learned that at times last season when he tried to do too much.

There has never been any doubt about Josh Morrissey’s skill and intelligence. His increasing strength and resolve to play in the NHL as early as next season will mean more wins for the Raiders, but the real winners will be the fans who get to watch arguably the best defenseman in the WHL and one of the best players in franchise history for one more season.          



Bums in the Seats; The Best Solution

       - Drew Wilson, October 1st 2014

First of all, 2.395 simply is not good enough.

That was the attendance for last Saturday’s 4-3 Raider loss to Regina at the Art Hauser Centre.

While staff and fans were contemplating what went wrong on the ice that night, team staff was bracing for the annual general meeting just two nights later, knowing they would be revealing a substantial financial loss for the 2013-14 season.

The number was a shocker, $210-thousand when you compare expenses with revenue and $262,680 when you add in depreciation of assets

General Manager Bruno Campese told Tuesday night’s 900 CKBI audience tuning in to a special edition of “face-off”, they knew they were in trouble when an unfavorable schedule was released by the WHL last June. By then the budget had been struck with little room to trim from an already lean document. The opportunity to make a few extra dollars faded last spring when the Raiders were swept by the eventual Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round of the playoffs as basically all you do with only two home playoff dates is pay the expenses of the first round. The team also was left with a large part the bill incurred with the tie breaker game in Red Deer and three extra days in Alberta leading up to the Oil King series.

The  wonky schedule derived by the league’s first crack at going the computer route instead of the acrimonious annual day long debate of GM’s, was responsible in part for a decrease of about 170  fans per game on average. Add in spin-off spending and that translates to a hit of around $175-thousand.  The team is hoping a schedule with many more weekend dates will help turn that situation around.

And they will need more walk-up ticket sales since season subscriber numbers came close, but fell short of the goal of 1.650.

The team is also hoping a revamped game night experience will help attract young adults, a demographic missing from the Art Hauser Centre on game nights. The organization is working hard toward making 2013-14 an expensive one year blip on the radar, but ultimately it’s up to fans to respond by finding reasons to come to games instead of staying away.

Campese points out expenses will continue to rise meaning at some point, maybe by the end of the decade, even a sold out Art Hauser Centre every night won’t generate enough cash to make ends meet, therefore the need for a new arena whether it’s stand alone or part of a multi-use facility.

However the future is now. With 34 home games remaining, this team needs more fans to meet a 2014-15 budget of around 2.1 million dollars.