Even if they finally have a name, the work has just begun for the Blackfalds Bulldogs.
Set to play their inaugural game in the Alberta Junior Hockey League almost 18 months from now, nearly every day from here, a piece of the puzzle will come together.
The main architect behind the project is the longtime coach of the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs and prominent local business owner Doug Quinn. He was able to buy and relocate the struggling Calgary Junior A Mustangs in October of 2019.
Just last week the new club decided on the moniker Bulldogs, based on its connection to local minor hockey. They plan on releasing their jersey in the next few weeks.
“We were excited to get the name out there and get started. We’re still pretty preliminary,” said Quinn.
Quinn explained most of the work these days is developing a business model for the franchise in terms of their brand, as well as meeting with architects to finalize plans for the new rink, including the team’s dressing room and training facility.
The new rink, which will have seating for more than 1,200 people, will be a second ice surface at the Blackfalds Multiplex and is a major part of the $20-million facility.
Another key piece of the franchise puzzle is putting together a staff, which includes director of hockey operations Al Parada and a few others from the Optimist Chiefs’ staff.
“A lot of the group that worked with me the last number of years with the Midget team. We’ve all been part of the hockey industry, so we all have networks. We’re going to tap into those and already have had a number of people want to be apart of the team,” said Quinn, who added that he’ll be behind the bench as head coach, at least in the beginning.
“There’s lots of people who want to be a part of it, but what’s our message? What kind of player are we looking for and who do we want involved? Who are the kind of people that are going to be representing our product?”
The focus will shift early next season to players, where they will have a tall task ahead. Building a roster from the ground up isn’t easy, but with some connections around the hockey world and in Central Alberta, he figures they’ll be able to put together a competitive group.
As for the type of player, Quinn said they’ll need a mixture of everything on the ice, but in reality, the players need to be a part of the community as well.
“What we can do is create opportunities for the kids that they feel will benefit them,” Quinn said.
“For us, what I’ve always said when I’ve coached, we’re never always looking for the 20 most talented kids. We’re always trying to put together the best team. We’re going to looking for all kinds of players to fit certain roles. To me, we’ve had success with that model and it’s something we’re going to continue to do.”
Quinn also explained what has been driving the project in the early days is the enthusiasm from everyone around Central Alberta and particularly the excitement in Blackfalds. He said he hopes in turn, he can deliver them a product and organization they’ll be proud of.
“We’re always trying to do the best we can and certainly (winning), will be our goal. Build the most competitive team. I think the thing that’s exciting for this whole project is the excitement within the community, working with the Town of Blackfalds and the excitement within the community,” Quinn said.
I feel really positive about what they’re doing and giving us the opportunity to build something and hopefully, we can build it into a top program.”
Fans of the new franchise can check on their social channels for their new jersey in the coming weeks.