IceCaps front office gets its due at league awards Posted by IceCaps on
Community and Fan Experience recognized
By Chris Ballard – IceCaps Insider
To say that the 2013-14 season has been a winning year for the St. John’s IceCaps is an understatement.
The team recorded a franchise-best 99 points in the regular season and survived three rounds of grueling playoff hockey to qualify for the Calder Cup Finals for the first time ever, in addition to hosting a flawless American Hockey League All-Star Classic in February.
The winning didn’t stop once the final buzzer had blown as the IceCaps and their front office were singled out by the league and received several top honours.
In addition to receiving the AHL’s President’s Award for overall organizational excellence, two of the team’s front office departments earned prizes of their own.
The IceCaps were named best in the Eastern Conference in both the areas of fan experience and community relations, departments that are close to the heart of IceCaps’ governor and Chief Operating Officer, Glenn Stanford.
“Any time at any place and anywhere you’re recognized by your fellow teams, it’s quite an honour,” Stanford said.
“There are 30 teams in this league and 30 good organizations. For them to pick us for these types of awards is a credit to everybody. When you take a look at what we’ve done, it captures our entire year. (These awards) recognize not just an organization. It recognizes a community as a whole, from our season ticket holders to our corporate partners to our city.”
According to Stanford, a winning formula has nothing to do with star players or dollar bills. It starts and ends with teamwork at every level.
“I’m a big fan of teamwork,” he said.
“It’s all the different pieces of the puzzle. We’ve been very fortunate here to have great ownership with Mr. Williams and a great partnership with the Winnipeg Jets. We have a hardworking and competent staff. We were very careful in year one to make sure we had the best people we could get and we have an all star group here now.”
Community is key
One of Stanford’s hardworking employees is Trevor Murphy, the IceCaps’ Director of Community Partnerships.
He’s the team’s one-man community outreach unit behind such grassroots initiatives as the Jungle Jims Minor Hockey Festivals and Buddy’s Book Club, to name a few.
Murphy boasts an impressive background, honing his craft in community related positions at both Hockey Canada and the Edmonton Oilers over the course of his career.
While he heads his own department, Murphy is quick to note that this award is not his alone.
“It’s special, not just for me but for the whole organization,” he said.
“I feel very fortunate that we have some great relationships throughout the community, be it in the educational community, minor sports, health organizations, whatever the case may be. We are an organization that believes in the importance of community. It’s not just a situation where we feel we should be a part of the community. We want to be a part of the community.”
The Jungle Jims Minor Hockey Festival ranks high on his list of his accomplishments for this past season. He broke new ground and toured the island to bring IceCaps hockey into communities across Newfoundland and Labrador.
Perhaps the IceCaps’ biggest impact in the community is through IceCaps Care and Williams Family Foundations, the charitable wing of the organization.
“Our total is closing in on 1.5 million dollars raised over the last three years,” Murphy said.
“For an American hockey league franchise, that’s fantastic. We’re closing in on $500,000 this year alone with regards to financial initiatives and in-kind gifting. Lots of real positive things and we’re trying our best to make an impact on as many people as possible.”
Bringing them to their feet
There are a lot of moving parts under the ‘fan experience’ umbrella.
From pump-up videos on the video board to in-game activations and interactive intermission activities, the IceCaps fan experience team of Jenelle Herbert and Colin Fardy certainly gave fans at Mile One Centre a lot to take in.
Herbert and Fardy have come a long way since the team’s inaugural season, when they didn’t have the help of a video board to help keep fans engaged. Now Herbert believes that technology has made their lives a lot easier.
“Sporting events are not just about the game anymore,” Herbert said.
“Fans have increased connectivity now and we’re challenged with creating that memorable experience from the time the family leaves their home until they return to their couch. Technology makes it more convenient and comfortable for fans to watch the game and have a good experience in the rink.”
Herbert is the team’s Manager of Game Operations and learned a thing or two about in-game atmosphere from her time working with the NHL as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. She develops and implements game night production and entertainment and has a hand in everything from the choice of music in the building to in-arena promotions.
Fardy, the team’s Digital Media Coordinator, is the man behind the videos shown in-house at Mile One Centre, from pump-up videos to sketches featuring Buddy the Puffin. He honed his craft on the television production side of things in Nova Scotia and got his start in hockey working for Eastlink on Halifax Mooseheads broadcasts.
He explained that the fan experience isn’t something that can be managed from the press box. From camera operators to game day staff, he believes the fan experience award belongs to everyone who helps enhance the in-arena experience.
“It’s all about hard work and having a fantastic team to work with,” Fardy said.
“We have guys working with us that are dedicated and hungry and want to do as good for you as you want to do for them. They all want to be here and they all want to do it.”
Both Herbert and Fardy have seen their responsibilities grow over the last three seasons as fans continued to flock to the rink and both are proud to see their growth and hard work pay off.