It was as if the Calgary Flames knew what they were doing all along. With the Roughnecks looking for new ownership back in 2011, Brad Bannister knew he wanted to sell the Calgary Roughnecks to the NHL club, ensuring his pride and joy would be left in good hands.
He couldn’t have left it in any better hands. Since taking over, the Flames have rejuvenated the Roughnecks’ organization and brought with them a GM that unbeknownst to many, was a lacrosse player. OK, a former minor and junior player, but when you’re a hockey club and can promote somebody from within who has a lacrosse background, you take that opportunity. Mike Board may not have a lengthy NLL or Sr. A resume, but he grew up playing minor lacrosse in Peterborough and Jr. A in Brampton, with a large passion for the game and was the perfect man to take over the GM role for Bannister.
In his first year as general manager, his club went 12-4, the best record in the NLL, but was bounced out by their provincial rivals from Edmonton in the play-offs. That loss caused him to make a very hard decision that no GM likes to do; he had to fire his head coach Dave Pym.
While he inherited a team rich with talent, veterans and an incredible core, Board is blessed with an incredible business acumen and savvy that has allowed him to make the transition from NHL to NLL quite smoothly.
When you take over one of the top teams in the biggest professional lacrosse league, you have to often pinch yourself. Board was handed the keys, he got right in to the driver’s seat and put the pedal to the floor. While he may have hit a bit of slick spot early in his tenture as general manager, he only knows one way of going about things.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to go from helping run operations for the big brother then have to completely change gears and mindsets to run the new kid on the block. However with the help of some great people within the organization, Board has made the switch nicely. “I have a great relationship with a lot of people with the Flames and I’m constantly talking to them and picking their brains. Plus with guys like Curt (Malawsky) and Bob (McMahon) I’ve got a group that is always available to help or talk.”
Ever since leaving Ryerson University in the early 80s, Board has been working his way through the Alberta lacrosse ranks so he’s no stranger to the ongoing work and struggles of promoting the sport in the hockey mad prairie province. “It’s tough but we’re always looking for new and exciting promotions and programs to get involved with to get our name out there,” adds Board, who also points out that the family atmosphere makes it so that the Roughies aren’t left out of the cold.
The Flames organization owns pretty much every sport team in Calgary (NHL, WHL, CFL, NLL) and there was some concern that the new little brother would be put on the back burner and forgotten about but that’s not the case at all. “We work together on a lot of ideas and I have meetings with Ken King (Flames President and CEO) and the other executives constantly.”
But as any good GM knows, the product on the floor will help the business off it and he’s doing all he can to make sure his club is the best they can be each time they step on to the floor. While he’s not telling the coaching staff who to play on any given night, he’s in constant contact with them during the week and is always checking the waiver wires seeing who’s available and might be able to add something to his club.
Mike Board has a great vision for the Roughnecks who are looking to win their first title since 2009. It may have been a case of being in the right place at the right time but sometimes the best candidate isn’t hiding under a rock somewhere, he’s in the office down the hall.
So enjoy this week’s podcast with Calgary Roughneck GM Mike Board and don’t forget that all of the OTCB Podcasts and Inside Lacrosse podcasts are available on ITunes.
This week on the Off the Crossebar Lacrosse Radio show, Tyler Richards and Jamie Dawick joined me. Richards and the Stealth are on a bit of a hot-streak, climbing all the way to the top of the Western standings while Dawick’s Toronto Rock have been the top seed all year but he’s challenging the city of Toronto and its sports fans. Sell out the ACC this Friday night against Colorado and he’ll donate $25k to the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto.Teddy Jenner is one the leading sources for lacrosse information. He comes by his love of lax honestly with a lifetime of experience, two Mann Cup championships and six years of play in the NLL. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @OffTheCrosseBar or catch him on Team 1410 radio in Vancouver, B.C., as the host and producer of the Off the Crosse-Bar Radio Show In 2012, he was awarded the BCLA's Norm Wright Merit Award- handed out to a member of the media deemed to have have contributed to the promotion of lacrosse.
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