To say May and June were tumultuous months for the Olds Grizzlys might undersell the situation.
It all started with the Alberta Junior Hockey League giving the team nine days in late May to address their ownership group and find the funds to participate in the league for the upcoming season. The community rallied quickly and investors lined up, unwilling to see the team depart the community for fear it wouldn’t return once it was gone.
On June 30, the AJHL officially announced that the new ownership had formal league approval.
Friends of the Grizzlys is the new group that will steer the ship in Olds, the team announced last Friday before holding an introductory press conference on Wednesday. They also introduced the new coaching staff in the same announcement.
“It’s good, obviously it was a lot of work in a very short period of time. It was great to see that there are that many interested business people and alumni that were willing and dedicated to keep the team in Olds,” Friends of the Grizzlys president Darcy Dallas said Thursday.
“That was obviously the number one factor. Pretty much the last thing they wanted to do was own a hockey team but they didn’t want to see the Grizzlys go.
“Everyone that’s an investor is in it for the same reason.”
At the helm behind the bench will be Adam Redmond, a former assistant with the Calgary Canucks organization. He also spent time as the head coach for the Midget AAA Buffaloes for five seasons and totalled 96 wins in the AMHL. Redmond was also an assistant with the Grizzlys ten years ago.
His playing resume is an attraction, as he played in the AJHL for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and was the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. He moved to University of New Brunswick where he played in two Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Championships.
His assistant will be Joe Murphy, a Grizzlys alumni and Canadian Centennial Cup Championship team member in 1994. He also played pro hockey for parts of eight seasons in North America and Europe.
“I’ve known him forever, played with him. He really wants to become a coach and pursue hockey going forward. He’s been in hockey since was a kid so obviously knows a lot about it. Played good hockey, very good with kids from all ages,” Dallas said of Murphy.
“Adam has a pretty extensive resume himself. Always been in hockey and wants to make a career about it. Having those guys that are driven and focused I think it will be a great help.”
Former head coach Dana Lattery will assist the new coaching staff as a special advisor to the director of hockey operations.
“We’re hoping Dana can stay on board and help these guys, give them any advice and help them through the growing period and continue to help the organization, especially on the hockey side of things,” Dallas noted.
The president added that having the situation resolved is a relief for many in the community. He said they feared if the team did leave the legacy they created over the years would also vanish in the process.
“For a lot of us it’s a piece of history that if you let the team go would be gone for good. Everything that they’ve accomplished would pretty much be forgotten about,” he said.
“It was hard to see that happening and not do anything about it. Olds is growing and growing strongly. Hopefully with the new structure and go-forward plan everything should be good.”