By Marty Hastings
Kamloops This Week
Don Moores is the Kamloops Blazers’ business Beethoven.
“It’s about having that symphony leader and we’ve got our guy,” said Blazers’ majority owner Tom Gaglardi, speaking June 30 at his Sandman Signature Hotel on Lorne Street.
“We needed to have a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we were doing everything we could on the business side. There are new tricks and strategies. Frankly, we haven’t spent the proper amount of time creating and implementing them.”
Moores, a born-and-bred Kamloopsian, was named the local WHL club’s president, chief operating officer and alternate governor at the press conference and will have full autonomy over business operations.
He will look to borrow from the Pied Piper with his first tune, aiming to compose a marketing melody that will lead butts into Sandman Centre seats.
The Blazers’ average attendance at home games in 2015-2016 was 3,769, good for 15th in the 22-team league, down from 3,994 in 2014-2015 and 4,148 in 2013-2014.
“That’s what I do. I’m a marketing guy” said Moores, who played with the Kamloops Chiefs in the 1970s and was an assistant coach with the Blazers from 1985 to 1990.
“What [my hiring] does is it helps bring more focus. It will bring more structure. Chyzzer [Blazers’ director of sales and marketing Dave Chyzowski] does great work for us and is loved in the community. By bringing more structure, we are going to put butts in the seats.”
Moores’ experience in management roles is extensive, having been publisher of Kamloops This Week, vice-president of Cariboo Press, president of Black Press Prairie Operations and president of Black Press Interior Division before starting fresh on Vancouver Island.
He became co-owner and general manager of Nanaimo-based Maximum Yield Publications, a magazine and event-management company, in 2008.
In a hockey era where in some places general managers are younger than ever and organizations are searching for the latest and greatest, the back-to-the-future Blazers’ story continues with the addition of Moores, who joins head coach Don Hay and general manager Stu MacGregor as the latest reincarnations on Mark Recchi Way.
(No word on whether a permanent move to Memorial Arena and Cooperall-style hockey pants is imminent.)
“It all comes full circle, doesn’t it?” said Moores, who coached Blazers’ part-owners Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor when they wore Blue and Orange in Kamloops.
“It’s a really cool thing. Hayzer and I go a long way back, as well as Stu. These guys are top notch. You won’t find better hockey guys in the world. Being able to feed off that will be a big asset.”
Moores wasted no time in mentioning season-ticket package opportunities and potential kickbacks to non-profit organizations which bring fans to Sandman Centre, and said new initiatives will be introduced in the months to come.
“We have some really great stuff we’ll be talking about,” Moores said. “It is about trying to find some new things and trying to be creative. You have to invest and recreate. We’ll be looking at all kinds of things.”
Gaglardi said filling the barn is a “big part” of Moores’ mandate.
“We’ve done a really good job on the business side, but attendance is one of those things that’s lagging and it’s no secret around the Western League there’s a lot of clubs struggling with attendance,” Gaglardi said. “It’s a sign of the times. It’s HDTV. It’s every night there are 12 or 15 NHL games on TV. It’s a different environment to sell in. We know we can do better and get to parts of the community we weren’t getting to.”
Gaglardi said Moores’ hiring does not alleviate pressure from Chyzowski on the marketing side or anyone else in the organization. If anything, it ratchets up expectations.
“The level of accountability and what’s expected of everybody in the organization will increase now,” Gaglardi said. “There will be more benchmark measuring more often.”
The Blazers have yet to replace community relations co-ordinator/office assistant Ashley Neuls, who accepted a job in the mining industry.
Gaglardi, whose title with the Blazers formerly included president, has handed that job over to Moores.
“Along with changes in my life and my availability to get to Kamloops and spend the type of time I used to spend here, it just made sense to bring someone in here locally,” said Gaglardi, who bought the NHL’s Dallas Stars in 2011 and is president of Northland Properties, which he and his family own.
“It made sense to have a conductor of the symphony living in Kamloops and Don fit the bill.”
Moores is relishing the chance to make sweet music in his hometown.
“It’s great to be home,” Moores said. “Once you’re a Blazer, you’re always a Blazer.
“It means a lot for Tom to ask me to take over.”