The Victoria Royals held a Season Ticket Holder Pick-Up Night event on Tuesday, 18 September. The event included free appetizers, introduction of the players and staff, tour of the new team bus, player autographs and speeches from the GM and the Head Coach. Following is a brief conversation I had with the Royals GM -Cameron Hope.
Coming from a rich hockey background in various cities, what has your experience in Victoria been like so far?
"It's been great. We haven't had much of a season you know, we played six games (all pre-season) but it's been a great experience. City is great, building is fantastic as you know and the team looks good. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop... even the weather has been good. So, I have nothing to complain about."
Putting the staff together, talk a little about the philosophy there and what you are looking for going forward.
"Two things, putting the staff together this year was a little bit tricky because we had some returning guys that we wanted to keep for continuity with last year's team. Enio Sacilotto and Ben Cooper are important guys to have. With Marc's [Habscheid] departure we had to get a head coach and so that became the tricky part. Finding a head coach that would be able to work with these two guys and who shared what I thought was the philosophy of the team. How to build a team, how to create an environment or a culture where there is excellent communication, accountability, and all those little ingredients that go into putting a team together. But also be able to work with the existing guys. The search didn't take as long as I thought because once I had a chance to meet with Dave [Lowry] I knew we had found the guy!"
Was there any rivalry there between 2 Alberta cities and the history between you and Dave?
"Dave had a lot to overcome with me because of his Calgary Flames association. I was a born and raised Edmontonian and there's nothing about the Calgary Flames that I ever liked. So, he had that hurdle to overcome. But he bought the coffee at our first meeting and that went a long way towards helping him out."
An event like tonight. Seeing the fans here, getting geared up for the real thing [regular season] which starts this weekend, what's going to be like?
"It's going to be great! You saw what the fans are like here, it's a passionate group. It's a great hockey city with a deep tradition of hockey here on the island. You can just feel the energy amongst this group here. We even felt it at our pre-season games. It was an incredible experience for these guys and when we have a full arena this weekend it's going to be unbelievable. I can't wait to get started!" The Royals finished the pre-season with a record of 4 wins and 2 defeats. They commence regular season action on Friday, 21 September in Vancouver before returning to Victoria for their home opener on Saturday, 22 September.