Manitoba's Trevor Cook to run hockey operations just ahead of a couple of pivotal weekends for the fledgling BEARD Hockey league club.
This weekend, the selection order for the BEARD Hockey dispersal draft will be drawn and broadcast, which will kick off a week of frantic preparation for the draft scheduled to begin the evening of October 2nd. The Panthers were one of the final two BEARD Hockey teams to name their first GM.
The Panthers organization noted in a press release the importance of having someone in place ahead of the draw for selection order to allow enough time for the new man in charge to put a plan together. They were happy to find Cook, who the release called "a great fit for the role" and moved quickly to finalize the hire over the last couple of days.
"It isn't usually so easy to implement your plan for an organization when stepping into a new job and here with the dispersal draft, you've got the opportunity to build everything from the ground up - the coaching staff, the players, the farm system, the prospects. It's a rare opportunity that I'm really excited for," Cook told the media at his introductory press conference.
"I want to build an organization in Florida that does things the right way. I'm committed to establishing an organization that enjoys success on the ice, success in scouting and player development, success financially, and obviously an organization that is a hit with the fans, too."
Inevitably, the media went fishing for clues on the new GM's draft strategy, but Cook was holding his cards tight.
"I will say that we're starting an organization from scratch here and it's going to be key to start off on sound financial footing," said Cook. "And part of that is going to be being competitive, winning games, attracting fans... part of that is going to be knowing what we can spend and being smart with that money. So we aren't going to be a cap team just for the sake of being a cap team.
"This league affords some ways for teams that have some money to take advantage of it, and we want to be in a position where we can do that, and be a long-term competitive team not just a short-term one. Starting from a clean slate like this, it's imperative to get this right."
Cook continued, but still kept his cards tight in not wanting to spill any beans about his strategy.
"Beyond that, I'm not going to tell you anything. For one, it's hard to know anything with the draft order up in the air, and for two, there are 31 other GMs out there that can hear every word I say to you guys, and they don't need any intel on what our plans are. We'll be hard at work over the next week or so putting together a strategy and we can talk about that a month from now when the dispersal draft is behind us."
Cook is, in some ways, a curious hire - he brings plenty of GM experience to the table, but very little in STHS circles. That may offer some advantage in keeping his team-building strategy hidden from public view - but there will be a learning curve leading up to a draft that builds an entire organization.
Still, he has found success in previous stops, so there is reason for optimism for Florida hockey fans that have been starving to watch a contending team in Sunrise.