The business of running a hockey team continues to become more expensive for the Nelson Leafs.
Financial statements released at the team’s May 22 annual general meeting show a cash flow deficit of $47,500 before depreciation and amortization for the year ending April 30, while the Leafs are also carrying an annual deficit of $112,641.
Hockey operation costs meanwhile have gone up over $100,000 over the last four years. Although revenue has also climbed $80,000 during the same time, Leafs president Corey Viala says the board of directors is trying to strike the right balance between winning and financial stability.
“As a board we obviously recognize the funds that are needed here, but we’re also trying to find new ideas or different suggestions or everything we can do to mitigate that loss,” said Viala.
“Nobody likes to see a team lose money but everybody wants to see us succeed. Sometimes it takes a little money to succeed.”
Hockey success still eludes the Leafs — they won the Neil Murdoch Division during the regular season but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Beaver Valley Nitehawks — but they are spending like a team that expects to win.
Player acquisition fees increased last year by $5,450, recruiting costs went up nearly $5,000, and money paid to the team’s coaching staff, general manager and trainer went up by $7,000 to a five-year high of $60,700.
Travel costs also increased despite the Leafs missing an extra round of hockey compared to the year prior. The return of inter-conference play in the KIJHL as well as an increase of five extra games cost Nelson $72,378 last season.
Viala, who replaced John Dooley last November after Dooley resigned following his mayoral victory in the municipal election, said the board plans to focus on off-ice promotion and ticket sales next season. They’ve already had some success as advertising revenue went up $19,000 last year.
The team also hopes a contract that allows the team’s recycling depot to accept hazardous household waste, likely beginning in September, adds to its coffers.
“We don’t think we need to spend money frivolously, but we need to develop something with stability in it,” said Viala.
“The Nelson Leafs have been around an awful long time and I for one do not want to be at the helm to say we can’t afford to do it again next year.”
Meanwhile, the Leafs have already announced several roster moves in the early off-season:
• The Leafs acquired goaltender and Nelson native Curt Doyle from the Castlegar Rebels in exchange for a player development fee. Doyle, who played five games for Nelson during the 2015-16 season, had a 4-8-0 record last season with a 3.90 goals-against average and an .887 save percentage.
• Nelson also traded for Osoyoos Coyotes forward Tyler Badger in exchange for a player development fee. Badger scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 47 games during his rookie campaign last season.
• Two Leafs defenceman have been signed by teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Tulsen Fawcett will play for the Melfort Mustangs, while Kalem Hanlon committed to the La Ronge Ice Wolves.
• Nelson traded the playing rights of forward Tyler Nypower to the St. Paul Canadiens of the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League for a player development fee.
The Leafs will hold their training camp Aug. 23 to 25 at the Nelson and District Community Complex.