The Abbotsford Heat are in the market for a new top executive, after team president Tom Mauthe resigned late last week.
Mauthe, a Vancouver resident, said the move was prompted by a desire to spend more time with his family. He plans to explore job opportunities closer to home.
“It was a difficult decision for me,” he said. “The demands of working in pro hockey in Abbotsford, combined with the commute time, was making it very challenging from a family and lifestyle standpoint. I made a decision to change that.”
Lane Sweeting, a member of the Heat’s local ownership group, said in a press release that he was disappointed to see Mauthe go.
“We want to thank Tom for his efforts and tremendous commitment to our organization during our start-up and the first two seasons,” Sweeting said.
Mauthe’s resignation continues a theme of off-season transition within the Abbotsford hockey club’s front office. Dave Sheldon, the Heat’s director of communication and broadcast, and Jennifer Metcalf, the director of community relations, recently departed the organization to pursue other opportunities.
Sweeting said it’s business as usual for the team, and there’s no timeline to find a replacement for Mauthe, who has agreed to assist the Heat for the next few months during the transition period.
Mauthe, a former front office employee with the Vancouver Canucks, was hired as the Heat’s first president in June 2009, and he charted the course for the franchise over its two AHL seasons.
Reflecting on his tenure, Mauthe said he relished the rare opportunity to work on the start-up of a pro sports franchise.
He also said the Heat operate in a “unique environment” due to the public scrutiny which comes from the hockey team’s supply fee agreement with Global Spectrum, the company that operates the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
The Heat are two years into a 10-year deal that guarantees the team a break-even budget of up to $5.7 million annually. The City of Abbotsford covered a shortfall of $450,637 in 2009-10, and the estimated deficit for 2010-11 will be in the $1.2 million range. The Heat averaged 3,807 fans per game last season, 26th out of 30 AHL teams.
“Those relationships were required to get the team here, but there are days where it makes it a challenging operating environment,” Mauthe said. “But if I were to look at building this sports franchise in isolation, looking at where we are today and where we plan to be tomorrow and the following years, I’m confident it is going to grow and it is going to be a success.
“The community will see the benefits.”