Former NHL’er, Stanley Cup winner, and NHL coach Ryan Walter, you deserve a big thank you from the City of Abbotsford, and this long-time hockey fan and resident of the city, for all your hard work in season one as your job as president of the Abbotsford Heat.
You have left a positive mark and the fans were entertained more now than in years one and two.
The community aspect of your vision for a long-term successful franchise has come into play with all the theme nights and afternoon contests. Children attending the special “school day” game was a smart marketing move because the children, along with their elders, will want to come back again and again. The special forces and corrections staff were acknowledged; churches and the Punjab community were represented; and country music night and Lanny McDonald night were examples of these theme games.
Of course, a winning team helps bring bodies into the rink and although Jay Feaster’s Calgary Flames didn’t do so well, the brand of hockey in his vision for the big team translated to an entertaining up-tempo style of hockey for our city’s team. Included on this year’s roster was Ryan’s son Ben, who has a lot of his dad’s characteristics including being a good leader. He consistently produced points and pressure time goals. Coach Troy Ward did a good job with numerous injuries and call-ups to fight for a play-off spot.
On a more personal note, I treated my out-of-town brother to a game against the Chicago Wolves and he thoroughly enjoyed it.
It reminded him of the times our father took us to see the old Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League.
My brother said I was very lucky to have the AHL in my city.
A thought for the people of Abbotsford – treat an out-of-town friend or relative to a game and be proud of your professional team. It is truly a positive for our city.